You’ll have to excuse me for being spiritually centered but I’ve been reading Henri Nouwen all weekend: Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life.
(the title of this post is a heading of a subsection in the book)
“We are always in search of a community that can offer us a sense of belonging, but it is important to realize that being together in one place, one house, one city or one country is only secondary to the fulfillment of our legitimate desire. Friendship and community are, first of all, inner qualities allowing human togetherness to be the playful expression of a much larger reality.” (p.47)
After three years, I recently moved out of one of the most preeminent Methodist convents in New England.
Now I live by myself.
In the middle of Massachusetts Bay.
It really isn’t as dramatic as it seems.
But at a distance from my friends whom I love so much, I’m learning from and growing with them in a new way.
Reconciling Methodists know what this spiritual discipline is all about. (Nouwen calls it solitude as opposed to loneliness.)
Some of us are ‘in the wilderness.’ Some of us are in Massachusetts. But that really doesn’t matter.
Facebook is fun. No-one in the world loves Convocation more than me. I blog, I mail people cards (!) and the majority of my time on my cell phone is spent in conference calls… which reminds me that I need to schedule one.
But nothing can substitute for the sort of solidarity that starts with spiritual solitude.
I’ve been thinking about this lately as both Sue and Troy are on sabbatical. They haven’t been just an email away. It’s like a friendship fast and I’m all the more thankful for those two saints in our time apart. (You can go ahead and pray for them both right now, they won’t mind.)
As a grass-roots movement, we don’t get together too often. Methodists know what this is all about. But even when visits are few and far between, we’re a part of a much larger reality.
Blest be the tie that binds.