Okay so I want to share with you guys what happened at my house last night.
Wendy VanderWall Gritter of New Direction, Canada, arrived with a van-load of representatives from the LGBTQ community. Seven of them all together. I sent out an open invitation on my Facebook because, well, frankly, I no longer know many people in this area and wasn’t even sure who would come. However, there were over 20 of us stuffed into my living room. We ordered in pizza and people brought wine.
I was so nervous because this was the first official meeting I’ve had of this nature since I left the church in the spring of 2010. But almost immediately after starting I felt comfortable and even in my element. The discussion was deep, honest, tearful and funny. I thought they would only stay a few hours but they were here almost 6 hours! Actually, it was a powerful time
Can I just share with you some of my observations from the evening?
1. I need to get out more. I do all my work online basically, with nakedpastor, TLS and my art. I paint, draw, write and work… all at home all alone every day of the week. There is absolutely no reason for me to see people. I’m borderline introvert extrovert so I’m very comfortable living the life of a hermit. But when I want to see people I want to see people. So last night I concluded that my suspicions are probably right on: I need to figure out a way to meet with people on a regular basis. I want to hang out with real flesh and blood people once in a while and to experience the same level of community I used to at my last church and what I do on TLS. I want people in the flesh. I’ve been feeling this nudge to start doing something locally and traveling around eventually to hold live Lasting Suppers. I’m getting closer to figuring out what it is even though I have no clear picture yet. Stay tuned for that.
2. The conversation was about community. It seems like a lot of people have heard of The Lasting Supper. Right now we are at about 330 members. I haven’t been promoting it lately because I’m waiting for the new format to launch… hopefully this week. But they all seemed to have heard of TLS. Wendy asked me how we do community. As I was answering and we were discussing it I realized that this is the primary value, the key asset of TLS… community! It isn’t something I deliver. It isn’t something I create. It is something we make day by day… you and I. It isn’t easy. As we know, it is very hard work. There are triggers everywhere, and sometimes I feel like we are tip-toeing arm in arm through a Cambodian minefield. We do our best not to hurt each other, but inevitably we find ourselves trying to patch each other up. But that’s community. It isn’t like we are trying to get through all this stuff to be community. This IS what community DOES! We’re already IT! Welcome home!
3. People hunger for the right to be. The people who were at my house last night… visitors as well as locals… all hunger for a safe space just to be their authentic selves without judgement and fear of rejection. I was overwhelmed with the level of struggle everyone was experiencing. Many last night shared things they admitted they normally wouldn’t have but they felt safe enough to. It convinced me that this alone is the power of authentic community. There’s no promise of fixing anyone. There’s no expectations we have for people to meet. There are no goals to reach. There is no vision to fulfill. Simply being given space to BE is the transformative element! Like a farmer who clears away all the impediments for a plant, that’s all authentic community does– it makes space. The result is people will experience profound transformation. And it isn’t transformation into something else. It is simply transformation from a confined person to a free one. You’re the same. Just blossomed. That’s the work. It’s as simple as that.
I genuinely thank you guys for teaching me so much about community. I came into TLS thinking I knew quite a bit about community already. But I’m still learning, and the learning curve is steep. But what a ride!! Thank you.
What’s next? I don’t really know. I do know that I will continue to promote TLS as a safe space. I also suspect that I am going to start using TLS as a model for how people can do it locally.
Adios fellow travelers! See you at the table.