Saturday, May 22, 2010

Becoming Human

For the last 2 Mondays, I've met with a few friends to listen to audio recordings of Jean Vanier's 1998 Massey Lecture "On Becoming Human" . The thesis (from what I've heard so far, we're not done the series yet ...) is that we all need to be in deep community to really experience life the way it's meant to be. That we need to be loved for our individuality. At Ecclesiax, we've always talked about community - about how the idea of the church is to be really, caringly, involved in each others' lives. But I don't think we've ever really done it. And I don't know if we can - can you actually bring together a random assortment of people and really create a family? Most communities, as Vanier says, are based on commonalities or, more specifically, on common strengths. This is equally true of churches - but then how do you create a church that is actually inclusive of, and encourages, difference, when it's the common ties that bind? And it doesn't have to be church - whatever groups you are in, how do you make them a "community"? To be honest, there's people that I don't want to be in community with, people whose company I don't enjoy. It's easy to say that I should still be nice to them and treat them with dignity and respect, but Vanier's call is to enter into relationship with them. Blech. I don't know if I can do it. I don't know if anyone can. I feel like I'm I long way from becoming human.


Simone said...

funny contradiction because it seems like it's only human to NOT like everyone! I'm not sure that those deep relationships can really be forced with everyone. that said, it is possible to open your mind to people and to appreciate people over time that you might not initially appreciate. There's a balance. Basically... I have no answers for you.

el Maggie said...

Yeah - we came to the conclusion that you can't force deep relationships too ... we feel like every week, the message is getting harder!

Geekin'Girl said...

My sister and I were discussing related matters on the weekend, in light of my semi-nomadic existence and her desire to buy a farm near Peterborough. Neither of us ever felt deeply connected or 'at home' in the towns where we grew up or many of the places we've lived since. Wherever we are, we struggle to find community.

But, each of us has a strange connection to Bruce County - where our families have been living for generations and generations. We can visit for a weekend, and quickly find connections with a dozen people who know our history and our families' histories. It feels like 'home.' Even when we don't like the people, we feel community.

Maybe it's not so much that you're not becoming human yet, but that community and humanity are things that are grown through generations of coexistence in a common place - something few of us experience in our transient culture. Perhaps it's that we're looking for a quality of connection that cannot be found within five years, fifteen years, or even generation of living in a place. Maybe it's something we can only give to the generations after us - if we can get them to stay in one place.