Thankfully, I had to go, despite my poor attitude. I had to go because I am becoming a Third Order Franciscan, and Third Order Franciscans are supposed to participate in their regional convocations. I am thankful that I had to go because the workshops were wonderful, the prayer-time was refreshing, and I really enjoyed getting to know some Third Order Franciscans. I was tired when I returned, but the trip was most definitely worth it.
What I experienced last week captures in miniature my attitude towards community in general. Participating in the life of a community virtually always means accepting some obligations that we would prefer not to accept. But being part of a community is tremendously rewarding. And the alternative—isolation—is horrible.
We all need that reminder every once in a while. Our culture is both individualistic and over-scheduled. As a result, we tend to think about our individual wants and needs, and we don’t have a lot of space left over for the kind of commitment that community entails. That is one reason Churches are struggling today. People think they can travel their own spiritual path. And they are tired on Sunday mornings.
But community in general, and Church in particular, is worth it. It is worth the commitment to participate even when we don’t feel like it, even when we don’t always get something out of it. Participating, practicing community, finding our place, knowing that we belong, having Christian brothers and sisters who care about us and are committed to us—all that takes time and energy on our part. And all of that helps to make life worth living.