Community Connections

— Tom Sine & Jon Plummer —

— Jon Plummer —

I was scared but I couldn’t admit it
Hatred planted out of fear
Fight or flight no choice but to hit it
The road, it calls on me my dear

-The Avett Brothers, “Apart From Me”

Ever since college it was Kelsey and my dream to live in an intentional community, exploring the idea of intentionally living daily life within a specific place, with specific people, towards a specific way of life that worked to follow the way of Jesus. It was easy to idealize the idea of an intentional Christian community.

So we moved out to Seattle in an attempt to create an intentional community with a friend. We did this for a year and were then invited into a neighboring community that had been doing this “intentional” thing for 10 years. We thought, “They must have it figured out.” However, community is never figured out. It changes every season, with every new person, with every new departure, with every new endeavor, and with every new loss. That is the nature of community. Any one individual feeling or experience affects the whole system.

This is the beauty of such an ideal as community. True community involves vulnerability by each member. One way I see that lived out in our community at Rosewood Manor is when someone is in a bind, whether financial or other. We can express to the group that we are in a difficult season and almost every time someone or all of us offer support and encouragement. That sometimes comes in tangible gifts or encouraging words.

It is easy to talk about how amazingly living in community is. However, actually living into it is hard. Living in such close proximity while sharing space and resources calls for honest and hard conversations. In both intentional communities I have participated in this has been the hardest part: speaking my mind honestly and truthfully while also truly listening and being present to others’ experiences and needs.

Fear of failing or being wrong hinders growth and intimacy. I just watched aTEDtalk on creativity that argued that creativity ceases to be when there is a fear of being wrong. Creativity thrives in the freedom that it is alright to fail, to not have it all together. I believe community is a massive creative and imaginative act. We are intentionally placing multiple personalities, varying ages, families, marriages, kids and adults, males and females, let alone every person’s “family system” within a single canvass. But when we are not willing to have hard conversations we are just avoiding the growth-producing, truly spiritual piece of community.

I admit, I avoid conflict at all costs. I am afraid of being wrong. I am afraid of entering into a conversation at the risk of looking like a fool or being proved wrong or pointed out as a failure. However, that just bottles up my feelings and thoughts that then leads to hatred and anger. My feelings and thoughts could be a blessing to others. Even more, my failure could actually teach me something and push me towards growth. My life depends on my willingness to be wrong. Otherwise my passions, where I find energy and life, will be ignored, wasted, and dismissed.

Community is a hard balance between individual personhood and interdependence on the other. It is a creative movement of expressing my voice while valuing the voice of the other. May we “intentionally” enter into community rather than hit the road when difficult conversations and experiences arise.

Jon and his wife, Kelsey, blog over at Live.Simply Love.Deeply