Practicing Intentional Community?

So I’m in Northern Virginia for the next few days.  I’d taken the train up from southeastern Virginia to have a daylong meeting with a manager, who is turning over his role to me.  When I got here, that meeting had been pushed out until Tuesday, to accommodate writing a proposal that was running behind.  So now I’m part of the proposal team, and have 45 pages to write by noon on Monday.  Fun!

Meanwhile, it was really nice to see people in our office up here who I hadn’t gotten to see and really talk with for a while.  I’d always thought that networking was mostly an excuse to go out drinking with your buddies.  Of course, spending some time together outside the office is a form of networking, but so is staying in contact when you’re at the office.  In my mind, though, I guess I’d always called it community.

Having studied organizational behavior and how information spreads through a company, I know that the informal networks or communities are at least as important as the formal ones.  Having worked on this program for this company for over five years now, I have quite a number of informal network connections – quite an extended community – that I can get information from or give information to.  I learn a lot this way, not always urgently pressing stuff, but some of the interesting people-stuff, too.  I don’t want to call it gossip, but I guess some of it is.

I’ve learned to guard my relationships with people I work with and for and around.  Part of that is, I genuinely like them – well, most of them, and I know I’m called to love all of them, including (especially?) the ones who are hard to like – and I’m interested in how they’re doing.  Of course, another part is that you never know who you’re going to end up working for.  And I’ve also learned that anyone with the word administrator in their title is someone to keep very, very happy.  Whether it’s network administrator or benefits administrator or system administrator or administrator to the vice president, these are all people to stay on the good side of.  There’s a pair of ladies like that in this office, and I try to go out to lunch with them whenever I’m up here.  They’re fun and funny and sweet, and we all watch out for each other.

I find that wherever I am, I begin building a network or community around me.  I may be introverted, but I also know that I need people, that I can never be truly independent – and wasn’t designed or created to be, either.  It feels nice to be surrounded by people you care for, and who care for you.  It’s wonderful to do things like bring doughnuts or bagels into the office one morning, or extra homebaked cookies or tomatoes from your garden.  When I was in physical therapy last year, the group of us that was always there around 8-9 in the mornings on Monday/Wednesday/Friday really had a tight community.  We chatted and joked and laughed with each other, with the physical therapists, with the gym assistants.  We took care of each other and advocated with each other, especially if one of us was hurting too badly to be able to describe what had happened.  When I was “graduated” in February, I found tears streaming down my face as I hugged everyone there good-bye.  I hadn’t realized quite how important that community was to me, until I was faced with losing it.

Community is one of the reasons I blog.  I know I don’t participate too hugely, but I love being part of the RevGals.  I am part of several online communities that overlap like a fun Venn diagram.  I treasure those places where my little circle on a Venn diagram overlaps with others, and where community circles overlap.  Those intersections are where God comes in, just as Jesus promised (whenever two are three are gathered).  Community is vital to my well-being, physical and mental and emotional and spiritual.

So today, whether you are watching Hanna’s winds dance around the trees, or picking up the pieces after Gustav, or anxiously following Ike’s path, or sitting at home sipping coffee and working on a sermon, or stuck in a meeting room at a hotel writing a proposal all weekend – I hope you give a little thought to your communities.  Place yourself at the center of your circle, and draw the Venn diagram all around you.  And those places where the circles intersect and overlap, watch those places light up with God’s love.  You are loved, you know.  Perfectly by God, and somewhat less perfectly by those of us here on earth.  You are precious and unique and wonderful, and I’m glad to be in community with you.

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2 thoughts on “Practicing Intentional Community?

  1. Funny–I’m getting ready to write my sermon and it’s going to be about community–how Jesus calls us into community (ekklesia didn’t orignally mean church) and guides us on what is expected of us as part of a community.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

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  2. Oooh, yes – that gospel reading certain lends itself to that. And thinking about the Exodus story – Moses was part of the palace community in Egypt, and then exiled himself from it. He’s been called back to Egypt by God, and now has to become part of the Hebrew community in Egypt. But the Hebrews are very integrated into life in Egpyt, and when they leave, they are not a community of their own. They are fractured and contentious, and they have to intentionally come together and build a new community to support one another. Having a common goal (the Promised Land) helps, but I think that the commandments and laws handed down to Moses help as well. God says, “Here – this is how to live together, how to be the community of God.”

    So what Jesus says (and Paul as well this week, but to a lesser extent) about how to live together and be God’s community, is an extension of the Exodus story.

    So cool beans – thank you for YOUR thoughts! 🙂

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