Solitude & Distance: Necessities for Community
Human interaction is a foundational gift that breathes life into our world.
Furthermore, human interaction that leads to a willingness to live life together in community is one of the most beautiful miracles one can experience in life.
I am continually amazed by both the willingness and ability of complex human beings to commit to any level of community. Whether it’s in the context of family, friends, colleagues, neighborhoods, faith or vocation, I often find myself thoroughly moved by how deeply some are committed to living life with others.
For those who are committed to community, I’d like to offer the following two, seemingly counter-intuitive, elements that I’ve found to be beneficial in living life with others:
- Henry Nouwen has rightly pointed out in some of his writings that the beginning of community is solitude. In order to contribute to the life of any community, we need to create sacred space in our hearts to refine, develop, and reimagine what it means to exist with others. It’s unfortunate that our culture does not naturally incubate a posture towards developing our inner soul so that we actually have substance to offer others. This then leads to the second element…
- It may sound counter-intuitive to developing community, but distance away from one’s community is necessary for building the health and mission of a group. There’s something profound that takes place when you geographically remove yourself from the familiar. It allows for new/renewed perspectives, a deeper sense of love as one considers their community, and space to consider how a new future that further benefits all.
Although the above content does not do these topics justice, I hope it begins to open up new areas of conversation about the beauty of living life together as well as the beauty of living life in solitude and distance for the sake of the community.