Creating Community At Home
While we've all felt deprived of community in so many ways since March, the reality is we are called to create community at home with our loved ones and with Christ. Let the thought really sink in for a moment.
Create community at home. Children are just going back to school in some places and virtual in others. Many of us are working at home, laid off, or flat unemployed with no real hopes of getting a job until this pandemic recedes. We are at home...with our families...with no real purpose, schedule, or deadline for the first time, ever.
Getting to spend time with one another, really getting to know each other, has been thrust upon us. It has taken weeks for everyone to move past the "how do we entertain ourselves?" phase to the "we're doing the hard work" phase of living together 24/7. And it is hard work. We are getting on each other's last nerve with so much physical face time with each other. Whether we realize it or not, it is a true blessing.
In my own experience, I've been the captain of my own ship for more years than I like to admit, despite being happily married for well over half my adult life. What I mean by this is I have happily co-existed with my husband during all that time with my work life occupying the biggest portion of my day, separate from him at his work life. We would come together in the evenings to share a meal, chit chat about our day, watch a little TV before bed, then go to sleep and wake up in the morning to do it all over again. Weekends were (and still are) a time to get all the projects, tasks, and chores done we didn't have time for during the week. We had a fairly easy sense of community before the lock down.
Suddenly, we had 6 weeks of togetherness. Granted, I spent the weekdays carrying on as usual with my job in my home office, but he was home all day, every day. It was nice to have someone to eat lunch with and he sure did get a lot of things done around the property. It was hard for him, though. His business was shut down and a huge percentage of who he is was in limbo wondering what the future would hold. We spent time talking through what-if's, maybe's, and day dreams during those weeks.
It was just the two of us. It was wonderful and a struggle at the same time. We both learned to sacrifice ourselves for the other even more through the experience. I came to realize I spend way too much time working at home alone. Without knowing it, I had begun to think I was greater than I was. The lack of daily community, focused internally on what I was doing, thinking, or feeling, actually inflated my sense of worth and grandeur. I didn't know it until my husband was there to hold up a proverbial mirror, revealing my selfishness and self-centeredness. He wasn't ugly or even realized what he was doing. He was just his normal, loving self, giving me the chance to focus on someone besides myself.
I now understand I had become too self-reliant. Our culture tells us there is no such thing as being too self-reliant. I would even go so far as to say we view dependence as shameful. In reality, excessive independence is harmful and keeps us from truly experiencing a relationship with Christ and with each other.
When we become so self-absorbed, thinking we can provide everything we need for ourselves, we have shut out the reality of needing God and each other. We need someone to lean on, to sacrifice small pieces of ourselves and keep on a winding path toward holiness, toward God.
We need to spend time considering someone else's point of view, wants, and needs. We need to put their wants and needs before our own, to offer sacrifice. The path is so much harder when there is no one else to shower with kindness, love, and gentleness.
We think we have to reserve those gifts for the poor, the people who have less than we do, the people outside our homes. The reality is we should be pouring those gifts to the people closest to us everyday and in over-abundance.
And we should do it with no expectation of receiving the same in return. This is the love Christ calls us to live out. And we can live it without even leaving our homes.
This one of the pics I took of the two of us during our pilgrimage to St Peter Basilica. Mostly because I discovered I'm awful at selfies and my husband was really becoming sorry he bought me the selfie stick for our trip.