These children know what community is; it’s one person helping another; it’s everyone offering their piece of the puzzle to address an issue affecting their community.
“Community is not an ideal; it is people. It is you and I. In community we are called to love people just as they are with their wounds and their gifts, not as we want them to be.” -Jean Vanier
It’s all of us pulling together to make our communities a better place to live. How do we do that? We recognize that the solutions to society’s problems lie in the collective ideas of others. Each of us has a piece of the puzzle of how to make our community much more than it already is. We work together to see how each idea offered is part of solving that puzzle.
Through our wounds, we share something of ourselves with those who need to hear a message of hope. Our struggles and how we have overcome need to be a part of the conversation of dealing with issues such as poverty. There are all kinds of answers on how to more successfully deal with poverty in our society. We need to sit down together and really listen to one another. We need to value that one person’s thoughts on how to reduce poverty are just as valid as another’s. It’s all part of a larger and much more important goal of all of us doing the hard work together to support one another in our communities.
Community to a starving person is someone offering meals to that individual. It seems such a simple thing, and yet it doesn’t happen as much as it should. There is often a silent judgment of those who for whatever reason are poor. I have learned from a young African man that community to him is someone who is willing to offer him a university scholarship, so he can get a good job to support his family. In affluent countries little is thought of the blessing of three meals every day to those who aren’t impacted by poverty. But to this young African man having even one meal in the day to feed him and his family would be a blessing beyond value.
What community is to each person is different. The essential message though is the same. It’s one person reaching out to help another person.
Community to Jean Vanier is finding the message of unconditional love in the residents with developmental challenges he works with. He would say that their number one question is this: Will you love me? Having looked into the eyes of these adults with beautiful child-like minds when I was on retreat at L’Arche, I have learned what community means to them. It is love with two open hands of acceptance.
We can learn a lot about what community should mean by spending time with these wise adults.
Love in action is the message of their community. Let’s do all we can working together to make it the reason for ours.
Kevin and Karen Osborne are psychotherapists and pastoral counselors. Kevin is going to be a chaplain. He also feels called to be a professor of Psychology specializing in Pastoral Theology. Karen is the Director of a women’s abuse shelter. She enjoys doing cross-stitch while I like writing and singing songs. Karen makes me laugh when she sings the kitty bed-time song saying, “It’s that time. It’s the bestest kitty time of the day!” Kevin enjoys teasing the kitties and making them do kitty dances with music. Their kitty, Catherine, loves it when kitty daddeh sings All Things Bright and Beautiful. Kevin likes doing impressions. He tells children’s stories and helps others with their problems using his hand puppets, Dr. Teddy, who is a therapy teddy bear, and Mike the Moose from Matheson. This is a small town in northern Ontario, Canada, an hour’s drive south of the city of Timmins. Dr. Teddy and Mike the Moose from Matheson are consultants with us in our counselling practice.We are available to assist with worship and preaching to give busy ministers a much-needed break. We offer in-office, and phone counselling to anyone in the world.
Co-author on Mind’s Seat, a Christian inspirational blog