The need for a sense of community

In my graduate program so far, I've taken interest in the concept of community. I have worked hard in my classroom and my building to create a sense of community within in my classroom--a place where teachers and students alike feel comfortable in, a place they feel free to come to in the morning when they wait for the bell to ring, a place where they can open up and spill their guts out in words and speech. I think I've done a pretty good job of it so far, though I think most of my 9th graders last year felt this sense of community more than this year's group (several things have contributed to that--including my many absences from school due to conferences and adoption meetings).

But this morning as I began my study into the book of Acts (another one of my favorites), I realized that I don't have this sense of community I've been trying to give my students and fellow teachers. I've written about this before on my blog when I took the Place Conscious Education class last fall, but it's something that struck me again as I read the following verses,

"All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord's Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord's Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity---all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved" (Acts 2: 42-47).

I want this sort of community. I want to be connected with a group of people who are committed to fellowship, God's teaching, food and prayer---people who share everything and are selfless, people who don't value possessions too much. I think we all have an inner desire for a community like this. What seems so antithetic to me though, is my craving to be nomadic. It's hard to develop this deep sense of community when you get a three-year itch to move, to change venues. This is our third year in Ogallala and we haven't done a good job of connecting ourselves with a community outside of teaching and our students----we're starting to this year, but that itch is kicking in for me...so I'm conflicted.

Another thing that struck me as I read through these verses is a wondering if this community of believers accepted all or if they surrounded themselves with likeminded people. Part of why I think I've struggled to develop that sense of community in the past three years is because I've had a hard time finding people I can really click with---people who have a similar love for the written word, who love quirky music, have an affection for art and NPR, are committed to social justice, are intellectual yet goofy and pragmatic at the same time---people who share a similar set of beliefs and values. I think there are more people here whose interests line up with mine, but I struggle with putting myself out there. I'm terrible at it. I seem like an extrovert (and in some cases, I am), but I am pretty content at home with my books, coffee and computer. The old Simon and Garfunkel song comes to mind, I Am a Rock---here are some of the lyrics:

I've built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It's laughter and it's loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

But this sounds so damn depressing! I'm not really sure where this post is going--I feel like a rambler; what I think I'm getting at is that I need to try to shed off my hermit ways, fight through my nomadic desires and embrace others (even if they don't have an affinity for NPR) in order to create a community similar to the one described in Acts.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

We still want to get together! I think we'd have some stuff in common. Not that the sense of community thing would come from us at all, but we'd still like to get to know you guys.