i’m about to read community and growth [cag] by jean vanier. cag was one of my mother’s books. now it’s mine. maybe someday it’ll be one of my kids.
my mother underlined in pencil parts–i assume the parts meant something to her. tho she’s been dead for five years, it’s like i’m listening to her. by writing down my thoughts here, i join the conversation.
(addendum [2012-09-10] after page 27 there is nothing.)
by ‘community’ vanier means ‘intentional community’. there seems a dichotomy between living in community and becoming an individual. where is true growth, for me, at least? from the book’s title, i assume true growth happens in community and that growth through individualism is an illusion. maybe it’s a paradox–growth of the individual is only possible in community, and growth of the community is only possible through its members, who are individuals. i live in a town, an unintentional community, yet i feel to be growing. would i grow more or be less frustrated in an intentional community?
it’s kinda ironic that the first ‘c’ in ccac means unintentional community, urban or suburban community, which kinda means hyper-individualism, cuz when you’ve had enough of others you retreat behind four walls.
by being in community, vanier promises ‘peace [from] the fruit of love and service to others. I’d like to tell the people in communities, “Stop looking for peace. Give yourselves where you are. Stop looking at yourselves, look instead at your brothers and sisters in need. Ask how you can better love your brothers and sisters. Then you will find peace.” ‘
is that what mum was looking for, peace through community life, as vanier defines it? or was she seeking the application of community life to family life? ‘the two essential elements of life in community are also part of life in a family: inter-personal relationship, a sense of belonging and an orientation of life to a common goal and common witness.’ or was she seeking community where people, ‘although they do not live together, are deeply bound to each other and their ideal’?
did she ever find peace through some form of community? nuns showed up at her memorial service; turns out she was a lay sister in two orders. is it my turn? i inherited from her a quilt (which to me signifies the connectedness of everything), this book, and her brains. did i inherit this restless search for community too? from her, or from someone/thing else?
left-wing or right, christian or muslim, believer or atheist, ‘we all belong to the universe; we all receive from it and give to it; we all are parts of a whole. the danger for people today is to forget that and to think they are the centre; that everyone else is there for them. people must die to this form of destructive egoism and be reborn in love, where they learn to receive from others and give to them.’
meanwhile, in the coming months, we seek to renovate part of a church and open a year-round, 24-7, accessible shelter before winter hits. that’ll no doubt creep in here. in fact, people are meeting, plans are being laid–last week the board met in the proposed site, approved the project manager, hired its first (part-time) employee, and agreed to speed things up.