Thursday, May 24, 2007


The main reason I have an ipod is so that I can listen to Krista Tippett. I'm usually several weeks behind schedule, but I don't care. She's always interesting. Today I was listening to her show about The New Monastics, featuring a lovely sounding young guy who started an intentional community in inner city Philly 10 years ago. It made me think about all the communities that have influenced me over the years: the Franciscans, Church of the Savior, Koinonia Farms, the Catholic Workers, Taize, Iona, the Sisters of Mercy. Each has influenced my thinking, sometimes even my acting. I've gotten to spend some time with a few of them. I thought, too, about the communities of which I've been an actual part: mostly small groups-- praying together, silent together, working together for social change or compassionate service. And then there are all the co-ops: supper co-ops, cleaning co-ops, food-buying co-ops, organic farm co-ops, babysitting co-ops, corn-burning stove co-ops. I loved those co-ops and I miss them.

Moving means losing community. I love my neighborhood. It's a co-op kind of place, but I'm not in with the crowd yet. Listening today, though, I realized that as much as I'd love another cleaning co-op or supper co-op, what I really want is someone who is willing to ask me if I'm following God's voice in my life. Someone who is willing to sit silently with me long enough to know the right question to ask. Someone who would want me to challenge and comfort them as well. Someone with whom to laugh and joke and know when to be serious. Or, even better, several someones.

I'm not talking church, exactly, though maybe an ideal church would do this. I'm talking something more intimate. The kind of friends who could check my bank account and see if I'm being accountable to my values. I've had moments of this in my life. It is a rare, exquisite, wonderful thing. (It can also be tedious and annoying, of course, because it's with people, not angels, and you know how we can be.) Still ...

So, virtual friends, what about you? Do you have the community you desire?


Kirstin said...

In some ways, yes--but it's in small circles, rather than one unified whole.

I have: seminary community(always changing, some close friends and many acquaintances), parish community-->family, chosen family in my hometown (Olympia, WA) and cyber-relationships. I'm getting to work at a retreat center this summer (The Bishop's Ranch in Healdsburg, CA), so you and I will have things to talk about.

I wandered here from Jane's blog. She left Berkeley the summer before I came, so we've never met, but her blog is one of my favorite web-places.

I love Mary Oliver!

lj said...

Hi, Kristin and welcome. I think having small circles is a beautiful gift -- enjoy them! Especially enjoy seminary while you are there -- don't get too exercised over the exams and ordination requirements to soak in all the opportunities for conversation and worship.

Jane is at one of the places where I found amazing community. Quakers have a thing or five to teach us all in this regard.

Kirstin said...

Quakers rock (and you're right, so does Grandmere Mimi).

Thanks for dropping by to say hi!

Roy said...

I once had a friend who regularly asked in a very relaxed almost casual way "how is your spirit?" I took it as an occasion to stop and listen and then answer as honestly as possible. For her I am grateful but now she is alone in Haiti so I have asked others to ask me the same question because most people aren't comfortable asking what seems a more intimate question than sexual practice. The latter actually would be much easier to answer than the former! Anyway, it is also the question I ask gently and regularly of my congregation in one way or another - not about sex, but "how is it with your spirit?" Some hear it as grace, as I do, others aren't listening or aren't interested. In fact, I often quote Mary Oliver, "I don't want to say I was just passing through this life."

Kirstin said...

Roy, that's a fabulous question. I wonder what would happen if I started asking it?

Anonymous said...

Dearest lj,
blogging certainly suits you! It is 3:35 am. Are you by chance reading this in real time? Hopefully it comforts that I know to ask the question, this coming from a friend, not too far away, who misses you and thinks of you often. Your words inspire me to risk my first comment ever posted to a blog. And this to acknowledge your courage, grace, and Voice. Reading you, I am tendered. There are those of us who are with you on the earthen trail. May our paths cross soon? I sure hope so. Until then, three cheers for virtual companionship.
p.s. I am finally meeting you, the writer, the blogger. Wow!!!

lj said...

Roy, It is a lovely question. My spiritual director asks good questions like that, which is why I persist in having a spiritual director.

Karin!!! My insomniac companion. No I wasn't reading at 3:35 a.m. In fact, I'm sleeping much better these days. (coincidence?) But how lovely to wake up to you with my coffee! Thanks for taking a risk and writing. I've been thinking of you often, too.

And you should know that my blogger reader population just increased from about 2 to about 5, so writing here is pretty risk-free!

lj said...

p.s. Roy, you are right. I know more about my friends' sex lives than I do about their bank accounts, certainly, and sometimes more than I know of their spirits. But I am also blessed with friends who share spirit-talk. I just wished they lived here.

pj said...

Yay, LJ has updated her blog! You have such an interesting background. And what a great question to think about.

I believe I'm finally beginning to have the community I desire. Which is an amazing thing, because I had a couple of years in which I felt very isolated. My community is made up of little bits and pieces -- home, school, and virtual. And I've even got one wild and crazy friend right in my own neighborhood, which is lovely.

But as for spirit-talk, it's mostly online. I'd like that to change eventually.

By the way, I've recently discovered Krista Tippet. Yay for NPR!!!

lj said...

While I appreciate your thoughtful response, I was counting on you to be the first person to comment on the urinals.

pj said...

Ha! I just came back here this instant and said (out loud, though I am alone) "uh...why do those look like urinals?"

So. Where would one find those things, anyway?

lj said...

I don't know. I was googling prayer images and they came up. I kid you not. I was so amused I forgot to see where they came from.

Sarcastic Lutheran said...

shane clairbourn is a cool dude.

no. but i'm getting my denomination to pay me to try and help create one.
i'll let you know how it goes.
glad you're blogging

sarcstic lutheran

lj said...

SL, nice work if you can get it! You seem like the perfect person (parson) for the job.