The Attraction of Community

April 2, 2011
Cheryl Woelk |

A couple who had been a part of our church community in the past and who had moved to Ohio to become part of an intentional community, returned for a visit and shared about their experiences.

Hearing the words "intentional community," my ears perked up. I'm both attracted to and challenged by the concept of living together, sharing possessions, and reaching the point of connection in which extreme learning cannot help but happen.

The challenge comes with the couple's story. They struggled with the other people in the community. There was conflict. There were personality clashes. There were different visions of what this should be. For me too, there's a strong voice that says, "I want my own space. I want safe space. I want to do my own thing and sometimes not be bothered by others or what others might think." The pull of the American dream of isolation and I-can-do-it-on-my-own is strong, and this culture makes that dream look good.

But there's an attraction in this community story too. The possibility of overcoming the challenging, of growing through conflict, of becoming more like the person that I believe I can become, catches my curiousity. Then there's the appeal of sharing possessions and the burden responsibility for all of what comes with living. I don't have to do everything on my own. I don't need to know everything for myself. Living together with people who have diverse gifts and abilities is really what humans need. Together with our differences, we become more and than each of us can on our own.

I continue to think about the strangeness and separation of life in the U.S. and wonder too, in a culture so focused on the individual, what does it say for me to give up everything to a community committed to one another in Christian love?

Maybe one day we'll have a chance to experience it ourselves.

Author Name: 
Cheryl Woelk
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