There are times in my life when retreat seems the best option. I don’t mean peaceful, quiet, necessary spiritual retreat, but the retreat of the defeated army, slinking away from battle. As a particularly relational person with good friends and an intimate family, it seems that most of my battles take place in community, sometimes for the better, as comrades in arms. But at other times (indeed, it seems, more often) the battle is a civil war.
Persons are hard to understand. God’s creativity knows no bounds, and so we are all a diverse bunch, full of ideas, passions, beliefs, wounds, insecurities, and issues. When we come together, we clash as often as we embrace.
I confess myself worn out from too much clash. It seems that around every corner there is another clash waiting for me, not from contention or malice, but from difference. Ultimately, I think we are all more different than we are the same, and to know someone well will be the work of a lifetime. To know many people well may be the work of Heaven.
So for now, the battles wage on, and we fight to win the ability to love ever better. I’m ready to give my life to it, even when most my heart is waving a white flag. I hope it is not too cliched to say that despite the miseries of war, authentic love is a prize worth fighting for.
“Nothing is sweet of easy about community. Community is a fellowship of people who do not hide their joys and sorrows but make them visible to each other in a gesture of hope. In community we say: ‘Life is full of gains and losses, joys and sorrows, ups and downs—but we do not have to live alone. We want to drink our cup together and thus celebrate that the wounds of our individual lives, which seem intolerable when lived alone, become sources of healing when we live them as part of a fellowship of mutual care.”
– Henri Nouwen, Can You Drink the Cup