This morning, I stumbled across this essay: “Everything I Know About Prayer I Relearned in Spin Class.” It’s by a young Jesuit named Michael Rossman. I found it via James Martin‘s Facebook page. He discovered it this morning, in the Sunday bulletin at St. Cecelia’s parish, (Boston). I laughed when I saw the title. It’s a nice piece. One chock full of wisdom.
Reading it called to mind some of the people who’ve helped me understand both the importance of being part of a community (Rossman’s #1), and the challenge of living in community. Nothing takes a person off a pedestal of admiration, the way living with them does. The ordinariness of life. The ebb and flow, with its endless repetition and sameness. Once you understand the ups and downs of a person’s moods, you can see through the sheen we all project to hide our brokenness, and fear of rejection. To see, you have to look. We can choose to not look, and avoid the question altogether. But if you dare–and I think all great loves and friendships require that we do–what remains is the simple choice to be with another person, not as we’ve imagined or hoped them to be, but as they are.
I think the choice is something we first encounter with our families. Having known us all our lives, they can typically see through our facades. We see through theirs, too. We know each other too well, in the sense that when change happens, family is often the last to accept it as real. That, of course is the same reason most of us are our worst critics, we know all the history.
Being able to accept each other as we are? It’s the reason some friendships last, and others, don’t. Everyone wants to belong, to be accepted, and loved. Even Jesus did. I think it’s the secret to happy marriages, too. Someday I hope to test that hypothesis.
Being able to accept ourselves as we are? I think a lot of that involves coming to terms with our vulnerability, and brokenness. If yours is like mine, I’m sure your family is more than willing to help you do this. Of course, they’re often the people we have the hardest time hearing. All that history gets in the way, differently.
I like the way Rossman pointed to the way he’s supported by a communion of saints (#9), who “inspire, guide, and intercede.” And that he allows that the “communion of pop singers that blast from the speakers during [Spin} class could also analogously serve in a saintly role for spinners – even if some of their lyrics or personal lives may not always be so saintly.”
I sometimes consider of some of the bloggers I read in a similar manner. I’m thinking in particular of three women (#5?) who don’t live in my neighborhood, and that I don’t really know, or know well enough to consider part of my community (though one lives about twenty miles away). They write from different places, at different paces, and for different reasons. They are part of my communion of saints because of their willingness to dive deep, and be vulnerable (#10). Again and again they teach me the importance of taking first steps (#11), and pushing through to the end (#3) even though I have no idea where it is. For all of that–it’s a lot–I am in their debt.
If you have time, and the inclination, you can find their windows into the love we all desire, here: