From Exile Into Community

20 Dec

One of the most striking things in the Gospels to me is that for some of the people whom Jesus healed, more occurred than their physical condition being rectified. Some were restored to community as a result of physical healing. We see this in the case of the leper and that of the bleeding woman. Previously condemned to life in exile, they are now free to live in community. 

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about community – what it is, why we need it and how we find it. In today’s world we no longer deny menstruating women access to daily society,  nor do we establish lepers’ colonies. But we have our modern day equivalents. We push away the homeless, the mentally ill, those deeply grieving, the elderly, soldiers returning scarred from war, not to mention those living in poverty, abuse or prison. Even when suffering from ailments less profound than these, now more than ever people live deprived of community. Which is insane because people are mammals. We are designed for group living. In fact, if an infant is not held and comforted by human contact, s/he will die.

I wonder how many of us are suffering in exile – needing to be restored to community. I know for myself, grief created its own form of exile. Growing up an only child in an alcoholic home, I felt isolated and different than others. This feeling and condition heightened as more events occurred that every day people often couldn’t relate to. I see this form of exile in those I work with – those stuck in a psychiatric hospital for various reasons. I see it most acutely in some of the children who would rather stay in the hospital than be discharged because the staff provides more of a sense of belonging than their families do. And this saddens me.

So for school, I’m starting to read “Acts” – the book in the bible that depicts the forming of the Christian community after Jesus’ death and how the church developed. And I resonate with this longing not just for community but for spiritual community. And I’m grateful for finding a church that lets me be a part of something. But I also find it amazing that I still walk up to the church sometimes afraid that I somehow won’t belong. That I’m somehow not a part. How good it is that Jesus healed others. Reached out and TOUCHED them – those untouchable – and let them back into society so that they could live. In contact. In connection. In community.

One Response to “From Exile Into Community”

  1. Kevin Brangwynne December 21, 2009 at 5:43 pm #

    This is beautiful! So glad to be in community with you.

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