Reflection on Community
Written by Michael Kurth
Trinity Volunteer Corps alum
Each summer, I take time from the stresses of the long, hot days and head to a river to fish. Though my family is built of avid fisherman, we are usually much better at telling a good fishing story than actually bringing home dinner. The often long waits in between catches have given me ample time to consider the wonderful theology at work; from the river flow the waters of baptism and new life. Every part of a river, from the communities of fish to the rock-bed below, teaches us about ourselves and our relationship with God.
Though I wasn’t able to find any fishing in my ESC service year in Washington D.C., I did find a community that fostered unparalleled personal and spiritual growth. There were many good times with my fellow Trinity Volunteer Corps members, from bike rides through the District to long meals laughing at our own silliness. Of course, it wasn’t always fun and games. We faced challenging times as well; times of despair and desolation, adrift from our joyful norm. However, through prayer and reflection, the greatest moments of growth were often found during these toughest of times.
Confrontation happens in community. And that’s ok. In Mark 8:31-38, we have an example of this positive confrontation; Peter starts off rebuking Jesus, only to end up on the other end of the scolding moments later. Yet Jesus and Peter do not dwell on this moment. They both know how important the other person is to their life and ministry. Through their differences and the resulting confrontation, they find more honesty and trust in each other.
Sometimes in community we are like stones in a river. These stones start off as sharp, pointy, and oblong. Yet overtime, these same stones rub up against each other. Each stone’s sharp points and rough features eventually become smooth planes. In community, we are placed together, next to people who we may rub up against. Our pointiest sides may come out and hurt others. We may even get hurt ourselves. But in our time rubbing up against one another, we smooth out. We become more patient and more humble, and realize we need each other to be our best selves.
Whether it is the sometimes difficult, discouraging days of a service year, or the emptiness and temptation of Lent, we need all members of our community to survive. Each person in our community helps us grow, and leads us to the rivers of abundant life from the depths of our driest deserts.