Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 21, 2004
Weave yourself into community's tapestry
By FR. RON ROLHEISER, omi
"Community is therapeutic because it draws us outside of ourselves, gives us a steadying rhythm, . . . ."
He went on to distinguish this from the simplistic temptation to simply bury oneself in distractions and work. His advice is not that one run away from painful inner issues, but that solving one's inner private problems is also, and sometimes massively, dependent upon outside relationships, both of intimacy and of a more public nature.
For example: For 16 years I taught at a theological college. Many is the emotionally unstable student, fraught with every kind of inner pain and unsteadiness, who would show up at that college and slowly get emotionally steadier and stronger during his or her time there.
That new strength and steadiness came not so much from the theology courses, but from the rhythm and health of community life in the college. The therapy of community life helped heal them. How?
The rhythm of community, its constant interaction, its regularity, its demands, its common prayer, its common meals, its social interaction, all of these conspire to help steady the unsteady, order the chaotic, firm up the fragile, and give those who feel abnormal a sense of being ordinary. There is a healing and wholeness that can only come from participation in community life. To feel ordinary, it helps to be immersed in the ordinary.
More specifically for us as Christians: The therapy of community life also means the therapy of an ecclesial life, Church life. We become emotionally well, steadier, less obsessed, less a slave of our own restlessness, and more able to become who and what we want to be by participating in the life of the Church. Monks, with their monastic rhythm, have long understood this, namely, that program, rhythm, public participation, the demand to show up, and the discipline of the community bell have kept many a man and woman sane, not to mention relatively happy.
Regular Eucharist, regular prayer with others, regular Church meetings, and regular duties and responsibilities within a community or family not only nurture the soul, they keep us sane and steady.
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