Monday, January 09, 2006

when it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year...

What a week last week was. It's not over yet, the differently weighted woman has yet to sing her aria on so many different issues in our lives; Jonah is the first among them, but they are many. (our name is legion?)
But I was pondering community last night, as I lay in bed, thinking how blessed we were to be "surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses". And then I read something (my bedtime reading these days is a jewel of a book I found at the Bookman downtown: "A Circle of Quiet" by Madeleine L'Engle). I started writing down favourite quotes, but quickly abandoned this to the realization that I would basically be scribing the whole book into my journal. So I sticky-noted the pages I liked to my heart's content. Anyway, to make a long story longer, I read a wonderful passage she wrote on community:

[on media and the news] - We can't absorb it all. We know too much, too quickly, and one of the worst effects of this avalanche of technology is the loss of compassion... I am apt to pay less attention when the daily figures for deaths on battlefields are given; it is too far away; I cannot cope emotionally. Occasionally it hits me hard when I hear the announcer say that there were only fifty-four deaths this week: only? what about the mothers, wives, sweethearts, children, of the fifty-four men who were killed? But it has to happen close at home before I can truly feel compassion.
We are lost unless we can recover compassion, without which we will never understand charity. We must find, once more, community, a sense of family, of belonging to each other. No wonder our kids are struggling to start communes. No wonder they will follow insane leaders who pull them into a morass of dope or murder. If they have no heroes, if we don't provide guidance, they are open to manipulation...
Compassion is nothing one feels with the intellect alone. Compassion is particular; it is never general.

She was writing more about compassion, but within the context of community. And I was reading it thinking: aha! exactly! this is the gift we have found at St.Hermans! Thank You Lord! We are a body. Never is this more evident than when one of us is suffering. The rest of us feel it. The rest of us gather round, and pray and comfort and do what we can. We feel it too, and we suffer with our brother and sister. Not out of contrivance, but out of love, and unconsciously. And they shall know us by our love. My favourite place is my church. It's where I feel accepted, loved, forgiven, upheld. It's like our Papa Lawrence says, where one walks and stumbles, he falls, but where there are many, with arms intertwined, one may stumble, but he won't fall.

John 13.34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.


elizabeth said...

this is such a lovely book... i have read it often... thanks V; thinking of you..

Gabe said...

I love that verse! And I love you Vic. Our prayers are with you.

kimberley said...

yeah, it's true. there is such a willingness to share. One has a little extra, and one not quite enough. One needs to receive while one longs to give and is just waiting to be asked.

I have received such comfort through the simple words of you and others in the past weeks. Some pausing a moment to let me share some story of my friend, who i will miss.

Yesterday, a friend loaned me a season's worth of 'corner gas' to cheer me up, and then a moment later a beautiful new family mentioned they had just cleaned their closets and had some quality things to share, what should they do? i mentioned that some of the girls or students might like to have a paw through, that there might be some need in our community. they were delighted by that, and said they'd like to do that before taking the balance of the items to a donation spot.

it really gladdened my heart to see such natural family tendancies:
big sisters sharing hand-me-downs with little sisters, a friend sharing a DVD.

Community in the joy and sorrow, and also in the day to day...

I'm with you Vic, God has been very generous to us.

RW said...

Funny that you are reading Madeleine L'engle. Hannah and I just had a discussion about her and how she uses time in her fiction books; I love her stories of her marriage and the struggles they faced.

We too, the Wildeman four are very thankful for all that God has given us. I am amazed when I look around during the Liturgy at my family. I am so grateful to be part of this community.

Keep us posted on Jonah, OK Vic?