22 April 2009

growing - and exploring my place in the community

this is my second year as a companion in the community here. it's not been quite what i expected, although i'm not quite sure what i was expecting :)

being a tochtgenot/companion is a time of exploring further one's place in the community, especially in relationship to Spe Gaudantes, the core group of the community [as i mentioned in response to our retreat it's a bit odd to be only sort of part of this group]. and this generally means getting closer to the whole community. but i say generally for a reason - your close-ness to the community is related somewhat to your connected to the Vaderhuis where most of the activities of the community take place. some people enter the community as a good place to live and be able to help others, and the community part is kind of extra. still others are looking for community and participate as much as they can, but always feel a bit distanced from the regular rhythm of life in the community -the chapels, coffee times, meals, and the people. others enter the community as part of the Vaderuhuis, intensely pushed into following the regular rhythms and bumping into all of the people.

i'm one who entered the community intensely. sure, i had studies and friends outside of the community, but the community was what challenged and encouraged and shaped me most for quite some time. and i delighted in that, appreciating the challenge and joys and adventure of it. but eventually, my desires to teach, my love of studying the Bible academically, a growing awareness of language and cultural issues, and people and ideas outside of the community pulled me away from focusing so much on the community. from what i know of myself, i think this is healthy - it's part of me determining what gives me the most joy and finding ways to do that. and then, hopefully i can share this joy and peace in being myself with the community and be blessed by the community to bless others outside of the community.

this moving away from the community, when it feels like an important part of being a companion is to become closer, has led to some odd feeling this year. in some sense it feels like i've stopped growing in the community. and for awhile, just living with distance was part of the growth - but since it's not the expected sort of growth, it felt stagnant. and this question of stopping growing woke me up to ask what was happening - and why did it feel like something was wrong with my place in the community?

and i'm not sure what's next. i'm still finding it strange (and hard) to grow well in a sort of backwards way - moving closer by finding a healthy distance. but i've moved forward in a few ways - i've put in a request to move out of the Vaderhuis (and thus discover the regular rhythm in a different way), after exploring some different ways of volunteering, i've made more choices about what would be good to continue and give extra energy to and which areas it'd be better if someone else did it, i've been trying to open my eyes more/again to relationships, and i've recognized a growing hunger to be even more involved in (academic) biblical studies (which i'm still wondering about how to fill [from a technical perspective]).

this isn't exactly what i expected as far as growing as part of the community, but perhaps this discovery of who i am and what fits me (even doing things the unexpected way) is also a part of my growth in being more myself, and thus more able to be fully part of any community.

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