Sunday, February 6, 2011

Our Abbey - A Community of Growth

This is the first of what I hope will be three "extra" postings over the next week discussing our Urban Abbey community and exploring how the service of doing the "business" of maintaining our community at our quarterly meetings is very much an exercise in spiritual growth, part of our daily work in becoming more like Christ. In this first reflection I share some insight into my personal understanding of our community, a bit of "what we are".

Last week Angela, Scherrone, Wayne and I spent Wednesday evening visiting with Greg Finch of the Community of Reconciliation at the National Cathedral. The Community of Reconciliation describes itself as “an ecumenical network of individuals seeking radical balance in life and a deepening commitment to reconciliation in the world”. We had a wonderful conversation, with much joyous learning and sharing of invitations. We invited Greg, and perhaps a few other members of the Community of Reconciliation, to join us for our February 19th chapter meeting. (Saturday February 19th from 9:30 AM until 3:00 PM).

The discussion of what each of our communities “is”, and my daily reading of The Rule of Benedict as part of my personal meditation, brought into focus how our Urban Abbey parallels aspects of the traditional Benedictine monastery. We are not a walled expanse of land, as we think of monasteries, but we are an Abby, which to me, parallels the design and function suggested by St. Benedict in his Rule with:
  • Our specific intent to become more what God calls us as we live our lives
  • Our choosing to come together as a community to support each other in this intent
  • Our welcome to all God’s children to join our life together, whether for an hour or day-in and day-out
  • Our formation of an enclosure where we more deeply seek God in the silence of our Listening Groups
We do the messy and hard work of becoming more like Christ through all four of these, but it is within our enclosure, our Listening Groups, where we truly set aside our outer trappings, let our guard down and get to the task of Christian growth. Here is where we come face-to-face with our Lord, where we may well find wonderful peak experiences and new life, but also find our fallen nature and our need for God in our life…

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