I’ve done it! I’ve made up my mind. When the Community moves, I will not be ‘moving’ with it (see previous post).
Sometimes you have to make hard decisions even about things you love. Sometimes things which have been very much a part of you suddenly seem to have ‘dropped off’ without you even realising it’s happened. You even get to the point where you realise that something that was an aid to your journey could even become a crutch that you’re unwilling to let go of, even though you know that your healthy legs are trying to propel you somewhere else.
I wasn’t planning to make a big thing of it. I’ve already quietly slipped out of the Community’s online forum…call me silly if you like, but it seemed the right thing to do as a kind of ‘deposit’ on my decision. I’d already cut down on the number of things I’m helping out with at the Community’s mother house, but expressed my willingness to continue to help out with some of the things I do. Funnily enough, every time I’ve been asked so far I’ve either not been available or, when I have said ‘yes’ things got cancelled from that end…maybe God’s trying to tell me something.
Then I had a request from one of the Community’s leaders to sign a rota to lead a weekly Eucharist. Leading Eucharist has been one of my favourite things about being part of the Community, so this request hit deep at the heart of something very special to me. I knew I had to write back saying I’d rather not, and give at least a token explanation about my “slow withdrawal from Community”. Apart from one close friend who I knew I could trust not to say anything until I signalled that it was OK to do so, no one else knew
Then someone who’s not a Community leader asked me why I was planning to leave…had I been hurt…had something upset me etc. People were talking. Clearly sometimes you just can’t leave quietly and without fuss, because people misunderstand, or choose to think the worst.
So let me say it here…I’m moving on after 18 years of being a Companion of the Community because it’s time to move on to other things. I’d always assumed I’d be a Companion for life but now I know that’s just not right. I will always be a Friend of Community…how could it be otherwise? It’s just that I’m not happy to remain a Companion if I’m choosing no longer being actively involved; that just isn’t the way I am.
I’m certainly not leaving because I’m hurt/angry/fed up…if I was going to leave for any of those reasons and more I’d have left long ago. My friends the Benedictines taught me the importance of a vow of stability…staying where you’re planted and growing through the experiences, good and bad!
I guess like many people I was living ‘The Rule’ long before I found the Community. Community gave me a vocabulary and shared experience to understand and express the way I was working out my Christian life. Now as I move on, I need to find a new vocabulary and shared experiences as I continue to live out ‘The Rule’.
There’s something exciting about stepping out into something new, especially when it’s not all neat and ordered yet.
I step out in faith with a wistful backward glance, but with the knowledge that many of the friends I’ve met in and through Community will continue to be my travelling companions. It seems like a funny sort of leaving…