I’ve been thinking about this business of a faith community and whether it’s lonely to live without one. Someone suggested in a long-ago comment that it was, and that by being agnostic and remaining aloof from any faith community, I’m to some degree electing a lonely existence.
I’ve realized that that’s not really true. And I’ve also realized why. I think because our society has become so mobile, the places where folks find company for the journey have changed. I think it’s different for everyone, of course, and while my circle of comfort and support is based on different stuff than others, by this I don’t mean that anyone else is wrong to find comfort or community at a church.
My point is, it used to be that you found your circle in places – neighbors, church, nearby points of gathering. While that hasn’t totally changed, people move around so much and change jobs so much that they tend to find their peeps in similarity rather than in place. Not that I’m saying people used to settle for who was nearby, but the consistency came from those who lived and worked and attended church nearby.
But I find my friends in commonality, away from where I live. I meet them at jobs and at social gatherings for people who share the same needs that I have.
Plus, living here in a state where a lot of people have lived here since childhood and have had the same friends since then, it’s much easier to form bonds with other transplants, people who have moved from other states like I did. And as we’re apart from our families and don’t necessarily live near each other, our bonds are in commonality and not in place. I draw my strength to face life from friends, whose distance (or sometimes estrangement, unfortunately) from family leads them to be more loyal to friends than to family. They’re as loyal to me as I am to them. We help each other for six months in a row when one of us has to sell a house that she wasn’t planning to sell, and do each other’s errands when one of us has a baby six days early.
I doubt I’m unique in this. I guess what I mean is that since I only seem to encounter God when it’s quiet and nobody’s around, this is what works as a faith community for me. There’s faith in ordinary life, too, and that’s where it is for me.