Monday, September 06, 2010

Community and Comfort

Sometimes I feel like Albert Einstein. Not because I'm a German-Swiss nobel laureate or am considered the father of modern physics. I didn't discover the law of the photoelectric effect. I've got no claim to fame on the theories of relativity nor can I explain the perihelion procession of Mercury and didn't contribute to the quantum theory of a monotomic gas. (Ok, I wiki'd the man)

But, because there is a constant human struggle. I want to do God's will, summed up pretty succinctly by Jesus when he said "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. The whole of the law is summed up in these two commandments"

Problem with loving people? You have to be around them to love them. And some of them are irritating, ugly and some of them are perfectly normal but just grate on your nerves. And other days, people are as wonderful as they can be but I aint always the most pleasant person to be around and I just want to be alone.

See, I love the idea of living in community, of sharing your life with those around you. Your family, church family, neighbors and community. In fact as I sit here and type this with the door and windows open, listening to the huge group of kids in our neighborhood playing in my front yard....I love community. As I sat around the backyard fire last night, and later the living room with a group of close friends, singing songs and sharing what God is showing us in our lives (with our kids running around and being goofy the whole time)....I love community. While we were doing that in the living room last night and 7 or 8 of the kids from the neighborhood wanted to come in and hang out at our house during the Bible study...I love community. When my dad and I were huddled around the laptop watching the Bama game the other day and 5 of the neighborhood kids came in, helped themselves to the chili on the stove and huddled around the computer with us....I love community.

But then there are other days. Rough day at work, too busy to do much but wave at a neighbor, rush through the workday, inhale dinner, fight with the kids to do homework, get them in bed then collapse aint all it's cracked up to be.

On those days...I daydream. This is my daydream. My family owns a farm in Georgia. My father and Aunt grew up there and all of us kids and grandkids and our friends grew up visiting during the summers. It's roughly 75 acres....give or take a few (no official survey has been done in ages. One of the boundaries is listed as being the branch off the creek). It has a house, what used to be the smokehouse which now is a tin roof shelter with a porch swing, a red barn and what used to be the tobacco barn which now holds hay for the cattle. It also has two ponds and some great woods for playing paintball. But what is even better than the spread out the fact that it is a 1/2 mile off of the main dirt road. That's right....turn off the truck route onto Tallokas road, go a few miles and turn right onto the red clay Greenfield Church Road, then hang a left onto Goodson lane, go a half a mile around the bend in the driveway and there is the farm, surrounded on all sides by woods and other farms. Can't even see another house from the farm. Our entire family of 20+ descends like locusts once a year for Thanksgiving/Christmas/Family Reunion.

But in my daydream, I move my family there, live off the land raising grass fed hormone free cattle, free range chicken and pork as well as organic vegetables. This daydream, in my mind is utopia because I can avoid all contact with other people and spend all day every day with my family, and if we get irritated at one another, just take a walk to a pond and simmer down. There is one problem with this daydream.....there are no neighbors for me to love as myself.

This is where I identify with Albert Einstein. See, he once said "My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibilty has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced freedom from the need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities"

He was like me in my daydream....perfectly content to be "free" of direct contact with other human beings and human communities. Yet, he felt passionate that he was responsible to live in community.

Jesus never said those two commandments were easy, only that they were required. Perhaps this November when I go to the farm for Thanksmas I will have an opportunity to stroll to the back of the pasture, breathe deeply and enjoy my "pronounced freedom from the need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities" for about 5 minutes....then it will be back to the real business of Loving my neighbor as myself.


Dr Phil said...

Great blog, perhaps because it echoes my own feelings so well; perhaps because I also enjoyed the Bama game and was not at all perturbed that neighborhood kids showed up; perhaps just bringing back memories of my years growing up on the farm; perhaps because I am always acutely aware that great relationships require a lot of effort and I struggle often to exert the energy to make them real. At any rate, great blog!

Reese said...

I enjoy doing community with you. I also enjoy family time with you. Here or There I am just happy to be with you. I am especially happy to be with you and Not Albert. Love you! Praying for you today.

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