Lately I've had the pleasure of walking with an established group into a whole new phenomena. That is: Deciding whether we were ready to move out from each other, and with intention take our 'Christ-like-ness' beyond the established borders of the group and integrate with our communities in some new way.
The dynamics of a group is a pretty interesting study as it reflects our deepening walk within community. Very often a particular group who may meet weekly or monthly, but who meet with the intention of sharing and expanding one's spirituality, draws the adventuresome individuals who are seeking more in their lives. Yet, the process demands, ironically, that somewhere deep in the body of the collective and personal work, the individual respond and comply ultimately with the needs of the group and those individuals within it. This is the nature of love, and of caring, this is the Christ in action. The work becomes the work of our incarnation.
We come, alone and with our particular longings, and discover that our healing is imbedded in relationship not only with ourselves, but beyond ourselves, to those with whom we share and live. As a group leader I watch for movement from reflection solely upon oneself, to listening and responding to the reflections of others.
After time, some may begin to resist the pre-stated agreements and norms of the established group, as the manifestation of dis-ease (within one's own development as well as the groups') invites us to re-establish the original intentions, or re-define them. As I said previously, the unrest and resulting resistance/behavior is appropriate, (much like a teen-ager ready to leave home) and addressing the unrest is one way a group and and individual grows and learns.
Conversely, if the work is not addressed, both the lights and shadows, then there is the strong possibility of the group commitment becoming truncated, resulting in movement away from each other and resisting the life-giving moments which can lead ultimately into more intimate work in relationship with each other, and more deeply into one's own soul.
There is nothing 'wrong' about behavior that might buck the 'norms'. One is merely growing and testing prescribed ideologies. However as each walks in sync within the group, respect for ones' self and others' becomes the barometer, and manifestations like consistent lateness, early departures, interruptions in sharing, breaking confidences, all are signs that the first 'love' of being drawn by a group, is morphing to a shadow place of reality, where we all live, as Fredrich Buechner says, in the scary Halloween hearts of us all. These Halloween hearts are ultimately the place we, surprisingly, are ready to visit, because as we assess our holy 'wholeness' we are able to see with each others help that this is where real change begins, this is where we meet our monsters in the face of the other, and we are humbled. And with this humility we are finally able to see.
When a group finds itself at this holy place in its development, it is approaching the invitation to re-discern one's story in light of the group's original parameters, and finally come away with more deep insights and understanding as to what the underlying draw is, both individually and corporately.
The Taize Prayer format has been established, prayed and tested since 1943. The Friday evening Prayers around the Cross, in itself does not change, as it allows individual freedom within the context of a corporate setting. For those of us who yearn to pray in community within a freed, yet prescribed design, Taize seems to minister to our longings. The silence, chants, and varied formats such as prayers with the labyrinth, or kneeling at the cross, feeds us beyond denominations and ideologies. Within this context we are freed to present ourselves purely for worship.
Come, pray with us this season.