This past week I have been with the religious community that I left some 10 years ago. I had spent about 20 years of my life with this community. I had been asked to come and help them with their bi-annual Assembly. I accepted the invitation to help, but to be honest, I was nervous about being there with them. What would they think of my presence? How would they treat me?
I cannot tell you what a wonderful pleasure it has been to be with these men again! They welcomed me with open arms and many told me how much I was missed, how much I was loved and how very happy they were that I was there with them. And these men knew me, my gifts and my flaws and they know and cherish me as a gay man. It was a very affirming experience. It was wonderful to be around this group of wonderful, holy, sexy men for a week. It reminded me of the type of man that my heart seeks. These men are holy men, spiritual and open, yet very much down to earth, to say the least! Such a combination in a man has seemed difficult for me to find since I’ve left. Of course they, like me, are not perfect and there are some pretty screwed up men among them; but I sat back and observed how those who were screwed up were treated. I found a lot of tolerance. The grace of community is that it is a witness to the possibility of different types of people and personalities, viewpoints and political philosophies coming together and respecting one another in love. And in the world in which we live, such a witness is needed!
This experience reminded me of the importance of community, specifically a community of faith. This has been missing in my life. I yearn to be a part of a community of faith where I can worship in spirit and in truth. It reminds me again how alone the journey feels sometimes because I don’t have a community of faith where I can lay my head and feel at home. Work circumstances prevent that right now; or perhaps it‘s just fear. Maybe this experience was meant to beckon me to search and seek again; to examine my willingness to leave all things and follow – to give up house, home, financial security, geography, friends and family. Am I willing? Am I willing to risk without guarantee in order to follow? It reminds me of Eckhart Tolle who left his native land of England to move to California because something within him felt compelled; and he only had $1000.00 to his name! Perhaps if we risk life becomes more of an adventure than the stayed feeling that pervades my living now. Believe me, there are many advantages of this “stayed feeling,” a beautiful home in a beautiful neighborhood, a good paying job doing when I love do to. But I increasingly do not believe in the direction of the church in which I serve and my home isn’t there.
Am I being called to sell everything? To risk? Are you? Anyone know of a good community of faith?