Friend of Time

In case you missed it, I’m participating in a leadership cohort through Thresholds. A quick recap: the cohort is a learning community for people seeking to establish or deepen missional communities, i.e., people like me. It meets in the Golden Hill neighborhood of San Diego over the span of 18 months.

I returned home from our third gathering last week. This gathering was different from the others. I can’t really put my finger on it exactly, but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we’re learning to love each other. That first gathering was full of anticipation and a few nerves, having no idea what to expect. By this third gathering, the nerves were gone and I was just plain excited to see my cohort family!

We spent the weekend learning about how to navigate conflict in community. Fun times, right? Yeah. It was heavy and hard and I had to face some inward conflict. But when you push through that conflict, whether it’s inward or outward, the payoff is huge.

Major Gail usually asks me to give her three things from any conference or event I attend. So in no particular order, here are my three things from the Thresholds Cohort gathering #3:

  • I’m not great at handling conflict, and it’s not for lack of training. Seriously, between summer camp orientations, serving as an RA, teaching high school —I should be a pro. You can have all the training in the world, but if you’re not willing to do the work, it’s of no use. After last weekend, I have some actual tools to help me navigate conflict. While I am not excited to put them to use, I’m glad to have the option.
  • For probably the last year or so, the Spirit keeps bringing me the word "story." I'm beginning to take note. I received the word again in Chicano Park, where the stories of a displaced population are shared through over 70 murals. The stories of despair and hope, brokenness and restoration were captivating. As I wandered around the park, I thought about how important it is for people to both share their stories and to hear the stories of others. My story matters, your story matters, the stories of those before us matter. Someone this weekend, either Rob or Christiana, said something like "If you don't know someone's story, you will misunderstand them." SO TRUE! Imagine if we made space to hear stories from people in our neighborhoods, our churches, even our family. I like to believe there would be more love and less hate.
  • Our reading assignment for this gathering was Jean Vanier’s Community and Growth. I can’t begin to unpack that book in a blog post, but I keep coming back to this
Perhaps the essential quality for anyone who lives in community is patience: a recognition that we, others, and the whole community take time to grow. Nothing is achieved in a day. If we are to live in community, we have to be friends of time.

And the friend of time doesn’t spend all day saying: ‘I haven’t got time.’ He doesn’t fight with time. He accepts it and cherishes it.
— Jean Vanier, Community and Growth

I feel like I live in constant tension between my desire to slow down and the pressure to hurry up. I'll be honest, it's really frustrating to me. I want to be a friend of time. To be patient and move cautiously. To have the space in my life to accommodate interruption. I don't live in a world or belong to a denomination or practice a profession that is a friend of time. I'm still figuring out what exactly this means for me!

While this isn't really a takeaway from our gathering, I think it's worth mentioning: I really miss my neighborhood when I'm away! I miss my quirky neighbors, the kids laughing at the bus stop, crossing paths with friends, and my daily commute through the neighborhood. When I moved to St Louis, I didn't expect to feel so connected to a place.