Monday, June 25, 2012

In Community

Earlier in the month I attended the Order of Julian's Affiliates' Retreat and JulianFest, held this year at the Redemptorist Retreat Center on Lake Oconomoc in Wisconsin. We had nearly three retreat days of silence, followed by two days of festivity. I love the silence: I read, meditated, sat in the sun, took a few photos, perched on my favorite swing by the lake (at left), and played peekaboo with a woodchuck, who popped his head out of his hole and regarded me solemnly, trying to determine if I represented a threat or an opportunity. Best of all, in shared silence all social pressure is off, and I find that a great relief. Retreat addresses received in silence, meals taken together in comfortable silence, always provide me a womblike security and peace. Community develops in silence -- I used to find this counterintuitive. Now it seems natural and organic to be in shared silence, sensing the loving presence of friends.

I'm part of several communities: among them a parish family, a former-parish family, the Shalem community, and the community of OJN, as well as my own nuclear family.  I don't know how I would live without them! Someone (I forget who) has written that there are no solitary Christians, and I find this to be so true for me. In community I am my best self, I think.  Community, silent or otherwise, draws me out of my shell, allows me to lower my defenses, and encourages me to hold the world in prayer.