If you search the word “community” on Google, the first website to pop up is the homepage for NBC’s hit show “Community”. If you’ve never watched the show, it’s about a study group at a community college. The characters are all witty and have many adventures, and overall the show’s really fantastic. At least, I think so. But alas, I’m not a critic. Lately, I’ve been reading some poetry. I’ve read the basic Frost, Emerson, Dickinson, and Whitman. But more recently, I’ve been quite interested in Rumi’s poems. Jalal al-Din Rumi was a middle-eastern poet in the 13th century. His poetry is, well, fantastic. (Of course, that is my personal opinion). Anyways, one of his poems “A Community of the Spirit” really stuck out to me.
“There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street
and being the noise.
Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.
Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.
Open your hands,
if you want to be held.
Sit down in the circle.
Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd’s love filling you.
At night, your beloved wanders.
Don’t accept consolations.
Close your mouth against food.
Taste the lover’s mouth in yours.
You moan, “She left me.” “He left me.”
Twenty more will come.
Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!
Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?
Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.
Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.”
I’m a pretty independent person, and while community is fantastic, there comes a point where I need to spend time by myself. Most don’t enjoy going to a restaurant, to the movies, to places in general by themselves. Me? I revel in going and doing things by myself. And while I feel like it’s a great thing to be able to do, I also yearn for community. I’m not exactly sure why, but there are times when I push community out of my life. I get to a point where I don’t want to see people, I just want to hole myself up in my room and read or listen to music. I worry about what others will think of me. I used to be a complete go-getter, a loudmouth (which hasn’t really changed if I actually talk around you), a social butterfly. You can ask any of my elementary or middle school teachers, they will vouch. I was always getting in trouble for talking; having to sit at the desk right next to the teachers, getting my color changed, getting detention, etc. But ever since my senior year of high school, I’ve become somewhat shy.
While I know I shouldn’t be anxious about meeting or talking to people, I’ve become so aware of what’s going on in my head that I don’t think before I speak. So, I always say something extremely dumb, or awkward. Let’s just say that I’m not the best when it comes to putting my thoughts into words. That’s why I don’t really talk. I have come to notice that when it comes to putting pen to paper, (or fingers to a keyboard), the words just flow out like I want them to.
I do however, understand that community is a vital part to our daily lives. Take 1st Corinthians 12: 12-31for example. Paul writes in verse 27 that “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” How great is that?! Whether I think I haven’t found a community, I am in a community, a community as the body of Christ. And that is just sweet music to my ears! Rumi writes “Be empty of worrying. Think of who created thought”! Now I’m not entirely sure if Rumi was talking about God in this, but you could very well take it that a way. Matthew 6:34 says “So therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough troubles of its own.” God created us; he knitted us in our mother’s womb. He knows all of us, everything. He knows our deepest struggles, our inmost dreams, and our thoughts, and yet he still loves us unconditionally. That always dumbfounds me. It’s an amazing thing to have; unconditional love. I know that I have a father who loves me, no matter what I do. So why should I worry? I shouldn’t.
I’m a work in progress. I am learning to take a breath and think before I speak. I’ve started making an effort to make plans with people rather than doing things independently. While it’s a difficult change for me, I know that in the end community will do great things for me.
P.S. Here is the link to the poem in case you would like to read more of Rumi’s work.