an intermediate community is one that lies between the one you are born into–your family–and your final community where you put down roots. an intermediate community is where people can ‘discover that they are loved by god and by others, and that they can do beautiful things for others, that they begin to get in touch with what is deepest in them. only then will they be free to choose a life which is truly their own … in response to an aspiration or a call.’
people come to these communities, seeking, and move on. but some stay. some want ‘to put christian order and traditional values back into the world’; others want to use violence to end the old; ‘and finally, some see in the cracks of our civilization the seeds of a new world, based solidly on gospel values and nonviolence, and upon community founded on the love of jesus. individualism and technology have gone too far; the illusion of a better world based on economics and technology is evaporating.’
‘to accept being rooted in a community is more or less preceded by a recognition that you are already ‘at home’.’ the call to uproot and put down new roots demands faith and strength and requires sacrifice of plurality and singularity of purpose. it requires choice. this experience is a ‘gift from god, which sometimes comes as a surprise.’ the call may be loud and persistent or it may be faint and fleeting, but whichever, it will be ecstatic, it will be a glimpse of heaven. the call must be confirmed by the community. ironically, ‘inner growth is only possible when we commit ourselves with and to others…. we mourn what we have left behind.’ we fear losing family, even identity. however, new gifts abound. sacrifice and fear are illusions, for the rewards are a hundredfold.
the change from tv’s individualism to community’s interdependence is difficult, especially for young people (remember, vanier is almost 84, so even i, at 50, could be young; the book is from 1989, when i was young–hopefully, i remain young at heart). they, ‘who have always wanted to do brilliant things,… will have trouble with the littleness of everyday life in community…. a special grace of god is needed to make the passage from independence, loneliness and anti-social behavior to community life.’
but community life requires choice, commitment, covenant, for even with its rewards it’s hard, it’s not for everyone. ‘it is easier to stay on the level of a pleasant way of life in which we keep our freedom and our distance. but that we means we stop growing and shut ourselves up in our small concerns and pleasures.’ one way to keep growing, to find a path for your restlessness, is to make a covenant and enter community.