How Do You Find Community

I was recently at a community meeting where we began to talk about who makes up our local community.  Some sisters talked about those they live with, or near.  Others framed the idea of local community in terms of regional geography.  Others talked about “local” community as any sister with whom she shared her life, near or far.  

I must admit that I often find my community in that third paradigm.  Some of my closest relationships are geographically distant and in different religious orders.  The beauty is that despite these barriers we are Sisters, yet barriers exists and that means more effort is needed to maintain and develop these relationships.

Thanks to technology- when it does in fact work- connecting long distance is possible.  Groups of Sisters meet and talk on-line and on conference calls, for fun and for meetings.  We have video chats for faith sharing and book clubs.  These connections meet a real need for me and for many people I know.  Yet, something is lost when we are not able to be in the same room together.

Some of the things that get lost are easy to quantify: lagging behind the conversation when you call into a meeting, not being able to read the body language in the room, not greeting good friends and Sisters with a hug.  Somethings are more difficult to name though.  Something is lost when we cannot pray in the same room together.

For me, when I begin a faith sharing video call, I ask God who resides deeply within me and in each person I am about to pray with, to bridge the spaces between us.  This helps me feel more connected on a spiritual level with the people I cannot meet with in person, and it helps me remember that we are all one body and one human family.  This way I am more mindful of our togetherness than I am of the things which keep us apart.

Renewal of Vows

I also depend on the significant relationships I have geographically nearby, which for me can still require a commitment to travel an hour or two. These relatively nearby friends and Sisters help me stay grounded in community in ways my long distance relationships usually can’t.  Long distance relationships are wonderful connections.  Yet, those relationships I have with nearby Sisters are often the ones which challenge me to grow.

Getting to know, and be known, by Sisters who live nearby challenges me to deepen my tolerance and sense of self as I get to know everyone’s’ little quirks and idiosyncrasies; and vice versa I’m sure.  One person described this slow lifelong development as having our sharp edges worn down to smooth curves over years of bumping elbows.  I am grateful to be in a place, and a life, where I can enter into this personal growth which complements my spiritual journey.  

All three kinds of local community provide me with their own perspective, and unique life experiences.   One is not better than another, and no one way provides a smoother path than any other mode of relationship.  We are all humans seeking God together in the best way we know how.  My friends keep me real and share my reality in Religious Life.  I am so grateful to have so many people on this journey with me both as guides and companions.