Each of us is on a journey – the journey of life. Each of us is a pilgrim on this road. The period of human growth, from the time when we are infants in our mother’s womb to the day of our death, is both very long and very short. And this growth is set between two frailties the weakness of the tiny child and that of the person who is dying.

Between each of these stages, there are steps to be crossed. Each of these demands preparation and education and must bring some suffering, particularly that of grieving for what is lost. Human life is this journey, this growth towards a more realistic and truer love; it is a journey towards wholeness.

The journey of each of us is a journey towards the integration of our deep self with our qualities and weakness, our riches and our poverty, our light and our darkness.

To grow is to emerge gradually from a land where our vision is limited, where we are seeking and governed by egotistical pleasure, by our sympathies and antipathies, to a land of unlimited horizons and universal love, where we will be open to every person and desire their happiness.

Just as there are steps to cross in human life, so are there steps in the life of communities. And crossing these also demands preparation, education and a degree of suffering.

There are the steps of foundation and launching, and then there is the time when the community settles down in a peaceful rhythm. It begins to flourish and expand. This is frequently like a period of adolescence; members feel that their community is unique and blessed by God; they are apart from others. They are naive, ‘have all the truth’ and are very generous and idealistic. Gradually they discover, sometimes through crisis, that they are not perfect and that they have made some serious mistakes; and that there are other communities blessed by God with whom it would be wise to co operate. Then after a while the number of new members begins to diminish. During this time there can be tensions coming from the clarification of goals and life style.

These steps are less clear than those of human life, but they are still there, and in some ways they are recurring; they never end unless the community dies. Communities are born, grow and give life, grow old and then are reborn. There are different stages in the way authority is exercised, in the evolution of structures of decision making. The community and those responsible for it have to be careful that these transitions are carried out well.

Many tensions in community come from the fact that some people refuse to grow; yet the growth of a community depends on the growth of each of its members. There are always people who resist change; they refuse to evolve; they want things to be maintained as they always were. In the same way, in human life, many refuse growth and the demands of a new stage; they want to remain children, or adolescent, or they refuse to grow old. Community is always in a state of growth.

The journey towards community is one of continuing discovery. We know little about the route ahead. We are not on an expedition where we carry a detailed map and an itinerary which tells us precisely when we will arrive at scheduled stopping off points or even at our destination.




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