I’ve recently been in a conversation with a friend about the possibility of expanding the “brand of communitas” (his words, not mine) to a larger circle of folks in the Phoenix area.Â While I’ve back and forth about how I feel about this conversation, my biggest fear has remained that I don’t want to get in the way of the communitas ethos and dreams if they must move far beyond the little band of us who live these ways out in downtown Phoenix.Â Below are excerpts from a my most recent response to this conversation.Â I’m not sure why I feel it important to document some of my thoughts here, except for the fact that they represent a clear sense of what I’m/we’re here to do.
“I’ve always imagined communitas being a counter-cultural voice among an already counter-cultural people.Â I think it would frustrate me to try to bring the ethos we carry to the larger public.”
“The suburbs need this stuff (communitas). They need initiatives that invite them to dream bigger about how they can care for “the other”.Â They need to imagine a God that is not just their God, but also the God of the atheist, the lesbian, and the homeless man.Â They need to learn how to be present to the places where God is most present.Â But I left that world for a reason.Â At first it was because in my impatience I couldn’t handle the shortsightedness of it’s people of faith.Â But I’ve realized that it’s much more than this. I’ve realized that my place is to be a voice among a different people.Â My job is to be a symbol of the kingdom of God in the spaces and places of the forgotten empire and among the simultaneous messiness and authenticity of the city.”
“So I hear your dreams and ideas and get excited for them, but unfortunately not in the ‘I’m in, let’s do this’ sort of way, but in a ‘I believe this needs to happen, so please do it’ way.”
“I feel called to keep things simple, accessible, authentic, honest, and real.Â You feel called to expand, to develop, to make better, to make more efficient.”
I am convinced that I will continuously wrestle with what my specific role is in the redemptive plan of God.Â I am also convinced that this constant wrestling is much better than never asking the question at all. Far too many of us settle into roles in which we were never meant to fill, and find ourselves far too comfortable to move on.Â What is clear (for now), is that the best thing I can do is pay attention to those who have chosen to invest their lives in the work and efforts of communitas.Â I must learn to better pay attention to the personalities, stories, and experiences of others as opposed to the multitude of initiatives (read “programs”) we can give birth too.Â I can (and have in recent years) get far too busy with activity that I fail to be present to the people that these activities were meant to serve.Â I will not do that anymore….as least I will do my best to try.