One of Collective MKE's four cornerstones is "Journey." I take this to mean that we are all on a journey of discovery and no one has all the answers. Nevertheless, as a community, we recognize that your journey might be ahead of mine, or vice verse. I think it is safe to say that from week to week, we all learn from each other. Your story may help my story along, or it may prove to be a touch point to which I can relate that helps me process my own questions, doubts or convictions.
This idea of community and mutual growth revealed itself in the past week in unique ways, a couple of which had an impact on me, and judging from the feedback of others, I am not alone in my experience.
The first was last week. In the liturgy, I thought the passages from scripture were fairly uplifting and positive. Psalm 65 reads:
"Happy are they whom you choose and draw to your courts to dwell there! they will be satisfied by the beauty of your house, by the holiness of your temple."
Or 2 Timothy 4: 6-8 which reads:
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day..."
Fairly uplifting verses, right? Well, during the discussion, story after story of hurt, pain, growth and healing came from our circle. Some stories were emotional, some solemn but ALL were deeply human. Followers of Christ taking scripture - fairly uplifting scripture, mind you - and applying it to their own life. Practical application of Biblical text to twenty-first century lives. Therein lies the beauty and timelessness of not only the Word, but of brothers and sisters -humans in their sometimes broken, but always beautiful humanity - shoring up one another's lives. This is what I love about the community we've created.
Then, this past Friday evening, we had our Liturgy of Fire. This is the second year we've held such a gathering and it is a pretty simple concept. We come together to eat, drink and fellowship around a campfire in late October. There's the usual campfire fare of hot dogs, marshmallows and smores, but we add a twist that makes it a little unique.
People are invited to throw something into the fire as a symbol of releasing something that is dragging them down. There is no pressure to come forth with anything, but a few people did. It varied from a box full of "old me" writings, letters and books to a single envelope with some baggage someone is trying to shed. People shared what their history was with what they were releasing and as part of it we all had a chance to again use their story to better our story - or at least to better process what we are grappling with.
But again, the evening spoke to how as part of any journey forward we need to throw off all that hinders, to fight the good fight, to strain ahead and to finish. And, perhaps more importantly, we need to stop and help up the person in the next lane that has fallen.