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we see humility as self-knowledge, that’s a very attractive
virtue for modern people. Everyone wants to know themselves, and
I think in coming to know yourself you need community, you need
relationship, because you can’t know yourself in isolation.
You don’t exist in isolation.
realism is … really the opposite of narcissism. It welcomes
the presence of others, not as intruders on our own personal stage
play but as gifts from God. The great Easter story about St. Benedict
comes to mind. He says to someone who has come to his hermitage
to tell him it is Easter--he may have interrupted St. Benedict
at an inconvenient time--but Benedict looked at him and said,
“I know that it is Easter for I have been granted the grace
of seeing you.” That’s Holy Realism, which seeks the
balance, the true proportion in all things.
denial of emotion is a terrible thing. But what takes time is
learning that the positive path is the education of emotion not
its uncritical indulgence, which actually locks us far more firmly
into our mutual isolation. Likewise, the denial of rights is a
terrible thing. And what takes time to learn is that the opposite
of oppression is not a wilderness of litigation and reparation
and recrimination, but the nurture of concrete shared respect.
community that freely promises to live together before God is
one in which both truthfulness and respect are enshrined. I promise
that I will not hide from you and that I will also at times help
you not to hide from me or from yourself. I promise that your
growth towards the good God wants for you will be a wholly natural
and obvious priority for me, and I trust that you have made the
same promise. And we have a lifetime for this. Without the promise,
the temptation is always for the ego’s agenda to surface
again, out of fear that I shall be abandoned once the truth is
known, fear that I have no time or resource to change as it seems
I must. But no one is going to run away, and the resources of
the community are there on my behalf.
Realism…rejects polarization. And of course, we’re
so comfortable with polarization in our lives, in our churches,
and in the world. It’s so easy to think in terms of “us”
and “them,” and you can put any label you want: liberal/conservative,
gay or straight, secular or theocratic. But for the Christian,
Christ blazes through our comfort zones and asks us to embrace
something radically different.
one example of what I mean. I have been living in Hawaii for a
time, and there’s a huge military presence there. Every
armed service has at least one base on the island of Oahu alone.
When troops were beginning to be deployed to the Persian Gulf,
some women of our church who had been making Anglican prayer beads
were asked to make some for the troops. They got, like, fifty
volunteers. Whole families would come. They ended up making and
distributing over 1200. Some of them were literally given to troops
as they boarded the plane. They were given out by the military
chaplains. With each set of beads was a little note from St. Clements’s
Church with information on how to pray the beads, but also saying
one could simply touch them and remember someone back home is
praying for you.
this little project made the newspapers and of course we got a
few calls from people accusing us of aiding and abetting murderers.
But I found it interesting in a church that some of the same people
who were marching on every peace march in town were also making
beads. One man told me that in the process of stringing the beads
and making the knots and thinking of the young men and women who
would carry them made him meditate on what it means to be one
in Christ. It’s not necessarily comfortable and it’s
beyond what we’re capable for ourselves, but it is a truth
that Christ does make us one against all polarities.
We live in community, even when we go off by ourselves. Remember
the old song: "I see the moon and the moon sees me, the moon
sees somebody I want to see; God bless the moon and God bless
me and God bless somebody I want to see." To be in relationship
with God is to be in relationship with every person who is also
in relationship with God. And we do not need to speak the same
language or have the same accent to be in true community; we have
only to realize that we are all part of God, and to keep that
uppermost in our mind and spirit as we live and relate to each
--William A. Kolb, "Community:
Where the Holy Spirit Hangs Out"