Monday, June 02, 2008

May.

Toward the conclusion of April I shared with Jake, “I feel as though we have been so loved this month.” So I made it a goal to track throughout the month of May who we have spent our time with, what we would do, etc. A little task for the month & was I ever surprised and grateful as I gazed upon our calendar yesterday, the first of June. Every day, with the exception of two weekday evenings, were willed with love & time spent with our neighbors and extended community. Picnics with friends, gatherings & outings, coffee dates & motorcycle rides, friends from far away staying over, dinners and rides out and about as well as within our home.

With the shining intensity of May Jake & I found ourselves more in dialog about community and what it was that made May so delightful and engaging. I know, I know, it's a hot topic to discuss. Living in community, concepts of community, community development, community reconciliation, community outreach... It presents as though one of the newest topic of discussion within religious circles: how to develop & engage in community. New nonprofit organizations over the last decade have been popping up with mission statements and visions hopeful of conveying a new message of community. Educational programs regarding community development have been increasing in the number of students applying and studying how to engage underdeveloped communities toward a better way of living. People of natural privilege & religious beliefs have been challenged and encouraged to relocate and assist in restoring under-resourced communities. Opportunities to live in community and learn better how to love others through a relationship with God have been increasing and are beginning to have an influential effect on the lives of young adults and how they are choosing to carry our their lives with God & Christ.

I am a product of these schools of thoughts and am forever grateful of their influence in my life. These programs. These teachings, beliefs, guides, examples. They were/are the outlets that brought me to the place of understanding more how I believe God intended for us to live together and live within. These resources were the tools, I believe, used by God to change my natural school of thought & practice. Through affirmation, conversation, mediation & immersion over the last five years I have been encouraged more than ever before to be the love, I believe, God intended for me/us to be.

Last night I had a really rich and affirming conversation with a new friend. A friend I hope to keep around for a long time. She shared how often times she feels as though we (society) take simple concepts and ideas such as community and intellectualize them into methods and tasks, books and essays, process and conclusions. She continued to share that often times she struggles to be a part of these conversations and struggles to make natural relationships that God intended for us to develop organically into means to obtain some end goal of community.

I struggle with not making a set of rules for myself & I most certainly often times find myself working more often on the side of religion rather than spirituality, judgment rather than perception, education rather than experience, rules and regulations rather than balance and flexibility. So I understand what this hopeful good friend is saying. For I too am guilty of making natural and organic desires of God into educational concepts and processes with end goals. But I feel like I'm not alone in this. Because when I engaged in these programs we always had tasks to stretch us and were encouraged by our stakeholders as to by look at what an end goal would look like. For most nonprofit organizations there has to be end goals and objectives stated in order to receive money to carry out dreams of how to develop and enhance their stated mission or vision, most often to the benefit of community. It's the world we live in. It's how we obtain money to serve others. It's how we get people behind our passion: we give them an end goal to look forward to, a set of objectives of how we're going to get there and the stated change we hope to see in the world through carrying out the goals, tasks, objectives. Wow – that exhausted me to even think about and I write up this stuff for a living (goals, objectives, ect.)

This is the thing, this whole religion, judgment, education, rules, regulations, should have, could have, would haves becomes addictive. Really addictive. Community is one of those “things” in my life. Something that over time turned into all of the preceding adjectives that started to blanket the nouns. The grandma's, Eddie's, Destiny's, Edgar's, those who are without homes, those who are without financial gains, those who are without. Pawns in a game of obtaining something I disguised as community.

So I stopped. I stopped forcing interaction and remembered times in Morocco when Jake, Cory & I would take walks around Midelt, sharing, speaking and enjoying the company that we would encounter as we walked. There was no driving distances, scheduling times, arranging meeting places, etc. It just happened. I miss this. But even then, I was a slave to end goals and means of how to obtain them.

It's at this point that I wish I was able to present some magical process of how I came to embrace letting this go, letting go of the need to follow rules to obtain community. But I don't feel like I have a process to share. I just had to let it go. I had to embrace that I am powerless over the condition of impaired community living that we rest and engage in. I had to let go of the insanity of always wanting to follow a system to obtain community. I had to make the decision to let God be God and be intentional about being part of God. I had/have to learn to simply love without all of those adjectives that have become misdemeanors that have taken me further away from God and God's Beloved.

So I think for now I'm done "learning" and am simply going to try to love in whatever way presents itself through life. Who knows, maybe in the meantime we may stumple upon this whole community thing that so many people are taking about and experience another May.

p.s. read this and maybe this entry will make a bit more sense. he has a way of making things make a little bit more sense in life.

8 comments:

Robin said...

Thanks Jessica, you are an inpiration to live and love!

Love you bunches, miss you bunches,

Me

cory said...

hi. i really appreciated these thoughts. i can't wait to talk with you (P&S) soon!

say hi to Edgar for me. how did his science fair project ever come out?

cory said...

oh Heavens,

how unworthy am i to get tagged on after then end of such a great post?

and i didn't even bring you Cholitas!

jenny kay said...

wonderful :) dana has told me about all three of you, and basically how amazing you are. thanks so much!

jen

Indian Lake Papa said...

Jake & Jess -
Miss you - are you coming by this summer?

Mama & Papa

Chops said...

Brilliant, Jess. I don't think I would have come up with this on my own, but since you did, I can easily identify it in my own life.

I must say, though, I'm not convinced that the phenomenon you describe is entirely negative. While intentionality can turn community into a commodity, the alternative is usually laziness about friendships. People I admire are usually dynamic and motivated in loving others. Where's the line, though? I don't know.

Jake and Jess said...

chops - do i ever agree. all that i shared regarding this phenomenon is by far not entirely negative. In fact, i see it as quite positive. I owe many of these avenues to who i am and how i practice love today. but, like most things - you are right, they can turn community into a commodity. something someone can make money on. something some one can make into what i believe "it" was not intended to be.

great comment though.

Rachel said...

Did you have a plan and a map when you helped change my life?