It seems that a lot of my conversations over the last couple of weeks have revolved around the importance of community. Authentic community is something I've learned a lot about in the last few years and am still learning. I feel like I have two very strong communities in my life right now, both for which I am very grateful.
First, I have my community in Texas. The people I have grown up with and with whom I've spent the first 23 years of my life. These people know everything about me; where I come from, who my family is, have seen me through all stage of my life so far (including the really awkward ones), and with whom I will always be connected. All of us are so similar and we seems to really "get" one another. The roots of these relationships are deep and I am so grateful that these relationships are still so strong even though I am now 2,000 miles away.
Then I have my community here in Portland that is so strong despite me only being here for a little over two years. I am still amazed at how quickly I got connected when I first moved to this new city. I didn't know anyone, yet I was able to instantly get plugged in at church (thanks to Drew), in the community (thanks to the Moores and Murdock), and with a great friend group (thanks to my fellow interns, especially Carrie, and my new roommates). I don't think I've ever experiences such authentic community as I have here in Portland. Let me try to explain what I mean by authentic. Each of us here in Portland are very different; we all have different backgrounds, family upbringings, stories of how we ended up here, goals in life, interests, talents. People are completely open about who they. And everyone is very accepting of everyone else's differences. My eyes have been opened to people's real life stories, many which are very different from mine and have been difficult journeys. We are all willing to genuinely live life together and be in authentic community with one another (I just realized how hippie that sounds). I hope this kind of community is something I strive for wherever I go in life.
My book club just read the book Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoffer. These are some of his thoughts on community that I really like:
"When God was merciful to us, we learned to be merciful with our brethren. When we received forgiveness instead of judgement, we too were made ready to forgive our brethren. What God did to us, we then owed to others. The more we received, the more we were able to give... Thus God Himself taught us to meet one another as God has met us in Christ."
"God is not a God of the emotions but the God of truth. Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God's sight."