Phil Stone, Director of The Scargill Movement (an intentional community of Christian men and women in North Yorkshire), talks about the fragile nature of community.
Community, wherever it is, whether or not you’re wearing a monastic habit – always has fragility in it. A community is not a strong place or at least not strong in the way the world tends to think of strength, it will always be a fragile enterprise.
We each take our weaknesses as well as our strengths to communal life. It is important that we are very loving towards each other, we need to carry each other. Out of our weakness God does something beautiful, if we allow it. Community life is not polished, it is not neat and tidy. For it is a place where we can dare to be truly ourselves, accepted and loved for who we are, and yet also challenged to be transformed by the love of God we experience together. Therefore the willingness to express our fragility and vulnerability is at the heart of who we are.
The more I live in community the more I understand that the key is the willingness to love not in a sentimental way but a love that is compassionate, self-giving and vulnerable. St Peter talks about love covering a multitude of sins and the script that Jesus asks us to play out in our lives together is one that is simple but tough and can feel extreme. In John 13 Jesus says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Brother Roger of Taize sums it up wonderfully, “Many people ask themselves ‘What does God want of me?’, when we read the Gospel we understand. God asks us to be a reflection of his presence in every situation. God invites us to make life beautiful for those he entrusts to us.”