Monday, July 23, 2012

Building Anything is Labor

Yesterday, our pastor spoke about living life in community.  He talked about the book, the Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, and how Lewis imagines hell as a place where his characters can satisfy their own appetites as often and as much as we like, but must sacrifice ever greater levels of intimacy to attain that goal.  He compared that world of Lewis' imagining to our modern culture, and it really resonated with me.

While he spoke, I happened to be sitting next to a woman who for some reason gravitates toward me every week when we're in church.  Conversations with her are often awkward, her comments can be off color or sometimes even offensive, and to top it all off- she smells bad.  Really bad.  And, I have to admit- it is always a struggle for me to want to engage with this woman!

Community is one of those things that feels warm and fuzzy to talk about, but when we examine it closer in our day to day interactions, it can be hard.   There is a woman in our neighborhood who runs out of her house to chat with me every time I am attempting to get my kids inside for lunch, a snack, out of the rain, or up the stairs for time out.  She seems to instinctively KNOW when I don't have time to talk- and that's precisely when she's ready and waiting at our doorstep.

The neighborhood kids seem to all arrive home from their various activities RIGHT as I was about to start making dinner.  Of course, my kids want to run out and play - but it's obvious I'm not the only parent torn between having to watch the kids outdoors or start a meal at a reasonable hour indoors.

Community is messy sometimes.

But, today I came across these two articles, both posted by different friends on Facebook.  Both were interesting to me for different reasons. This article discusses how when people move out of apartments and townhouse complexes to the suburbs- they leave behind a sense of community and of diversity.  They trade the messy business of interacting with people for a clean, neatly kept yard and a picket fence.  Now, whether you agree with the article's premise or not, the question is this: what ways is your own personal appetite drawing you away from others?   Are you dreaming of life on a deserted island?  A waiting area to pick up your child from school free of conversations with other well meaning but obnoxious parents?  A grocery store filled with self check out aisles and no actual cashiers to have to talk to?

This article addresses the sensitive topic of  women "having it all."  A phrase I've heard so often in my lifetime and one I've given a lot of thought.  The author suggests that no, women still cannot have it all.  Not if they want to be a top performer at a demanding career and raise a family.  Something's got to give.  The article focuses on women- because we question women's choices so much more readily as a society.  Women are scrutinized so much more for their choices around work and family.  But, I wonder, can ANYONE have it all?  What sacrifices does a man make who is a top performer in his highly demanding career?   Has he just been programmed to think less about the costs of that life?  Have the people around him been taught to support his choice to work long hours, take little to no vacations, and spend little to no time with his family?

No, we cannot have it all.  And, I'm not talking in terms of work and family.  I'm talking about a life spent focused on things and attaining things or a life focused on people.  People are more important than things.  Stuff should revolve around people, not the other way around.  Make your heart and your home a space that can be touched and lived in by those around you.

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