Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, December 4, 2015
Prayer and the Discipline of Community
Everyone needs someone. I don’t care who it is, each person needs some other person (or, persons) to relate to. To be with. To give and express love, caring and sharing. Henri Nouwen calls this the Discipline of Community.
I was previously unfamiliar with this particular Discipline. The more familiar, general Spiritual Disciplines I am familiar with, true. (To a greater or lesser extent, depending on the Discipline.) Except, this one was new for me.
The concepts of talking and walking with others, spending time in each other’s company, and especially of physical contact—free hugs, anyone?—all of these have been studied in recent years by research studies on both the social science and public health sides as well as the medical side. Physically, socially, emotionally, psychologically? Even spiritually. In every way, as Fr. Nouwen says, “I need people to love me and care for me.”  [emphasis mine]
Yes, while He was here on earth, Jesus gathered a band of people around Him. The named disciples, but more than that. Mary, Martha, their brother Lazarus, Mary Magdalen, the other Mary, Salome. Even some of the healed people, the formerly demonized, those with their sight and hearing and full range of motion restored to them, miraculously—some of these came into Jesus’s circle. All kinds of people, from all different walks of life, gathered around Jesus.
This reading today makes me wonder: are my friends diverse? Or, are they all monochromatic? All white-bread? Do I “reach out and touch” my friends and acquaintances? Am I open to their touch? Do I welcome their smiles, their words? Difficult thoughts, and hard words, indeed.
Dear Lord, thank You for convicting me and bringing this important challenge to my attention. For, it is indeed a challenge. Encourage me to be a good small group member, and good member of my congregation. So, help me, God.
Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.
(also published at www.matterofprayer.net
 Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (Linguori, Missouri: Redemptorist Pastoral Publications, 2004), 12.