Every Thursday morning I spend about 45-50 minutes with a handful of high school girls. And it impacts my heart. This isn’t because profound things are said (although sometimes they are) or because I’m such a great discussion facilitator (that is a skill I do not have), but simply because we are in community.
Our human need for community is evident. I am an introvert and I find myself baffled at times that I need other people. Often, I want to be away from people or at home with a few select individuals. Crowds and chaos aren’t my thing. Yet my soul needs community.
I discover it when I am with my housemates. When I first moved in, we bonded over “Parks and Rec” episodes. I had never seen the show but their conversations were peppered with jokes lifted from the comedy. So I started to watch the show and loved it. Yet I don’t think I would have enjoyed it quite so much if I was just sitting in the basement binge-watching the series by myself. Instead, it was a couple episodes watched over supper with one of the housemates or a weekend evening relaxing together. Eventually, we would stop the show and naturally enter into conversation. Recently, we had that experience again. This time it was with “Stranger Things” (a bit different from “Parks and Rec”) and I loved how we would analyze, discuss, and predict where the show might lead or what different aspects meant.
One of the most surprising things for my housemates and I has been that I have been the one to spearhead some of our largest gatherings. I’m far more likely to plan something a month in advance rather than throw it together in a couple days. I enjoy people I know gathering together to celebrate a specific event or simple togetherness. The warmth of a house, brimming with friends and laughter is something that satisfies a need in my heart.
When I was in college, I joined one of the many groups on campus for women seeking to grow in their faith and in community. It was the opposite, in many ways, of what I initially wanted. I saw myself joining one of the smaller groups that was extremely tight-knit. Instead, I joined one of the largest groups on campus. They were sometimes noted for their extroversion, leadership, and drama. I didn’t think I fit into any of those categories. Despite that, it was a great experience of growth for me. I loved Sunday evenings when we would gather together and pray the rosary, all of us united in prayer and intentions. It was a community I didn’t expect yet one that filled my soul.
A couple years ago when I walked the Camino, I grew to love the communal meals found at the donativos. Dozens of people would gather into a room and we would eat, drink, laugh, and fumble our way through conversations occurring in a variety of tongues. Surrounded in the warmth of others and sharing a common experience of walking across a country, I felt at home, even though in a strange place. The community of Camino walkers was something good for my heart.
We are communal creatures and sometimes it surprises the introvert in me. Time spent with others can be draining and yet sometimes it can re-charge me and replenish my soul. The Lord did not create us to be islands, to be separate and independent of one another. Instead, He knew that it was not good for us to be alone and so He gave us one another. He formed a human community for us to enter into and satisfy the longings of out hearts. He gave us the Church and invited us to become members of the Body of Christ.
At the end, He desires to welcome us into the Heavenly Wedding Banquet. It isn’t a Heaven of isolation but rather one of intense, perfected community. As an introvert, I can only hope that I will feel a bit differently about that constant communion when the time comes!