Fostering Lesson 5. Community & Covenant
Summary of skill
- Community as a personal experience for each individual involved
- Community as a place we gather for nourishment, learning, growth, development
- Track the energy exchange:
- What is our contribution in community?
- What do we receive in community?
- Community as a living organism that changes and grows
- With its own energy signature, perceptible at the psychic, subtle, causal, and nondual levels of energy/consciousness
- Stages of group development
- For example, Tuckman’s group stages of “forming, storming, norming, performing, mourning” (this and others cited in Peter Hawkins & Robin Shohet, Supervision in the Helping Professions, p. 171 “Exploring the dynamics of groups, teams, and peer groups”). This kind of modeling is often applied to workplace groups/communities, where people are there in order to earn a living, have a career, etc. which is a little bit different from a spiritual community.
- This “voluntary” aspect of spiritual community is an important part of the group dynamic in spiritual community. What attracts people to spiritual community? Why do they stay?
- Development stages in spiritual community – “Almost everyone finds their early days in a community ideal. It all seems perfect. They seem unable to see the drawbacks; they see only what is good. . . And then comes the period of let-down . . . people no longer see anything but the faults of others and the community . . . If people manage to get through this second period, they come to the third phase—that of realism and a true commitment, of covenant. . . .They accept the community and the other members as they are; they are confident that together they can grow towards something more beautiful.” — Jean Vanier, Community & Growth: Our Pilgrimage Together, p. 28
- Community in covenant as a collection of individuals that is greater than the sum of the parts, and all belong to the covenant—one way to look at a maturing, developing spiritual community
- 1st Corinthians 12: 14 – 18 (King James Bible version):
- For the body is not one member, but many.
- If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
- And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
- If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
- But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
- “Community discernment implies that all members, or at least all those with responsibility, try together to discover its real projects and direction.”—Jean Vanier, Community & Growth: Our Pilgrimage Together, p. 58
- World Cafe exercise
- How do you experience your spiritual community?
- In what stage of development might your community be?
- What might be the next learning/growth step for your spiritual community?
- Reflect on energy exchange in community for you at different levels of your consciousness. This can help you be more clear about how you come to community and what you hope to contribute and what you want to receive.
Resources for reflection & discussion
- Peter Hawkins & Robin Shohet, Supervision in the Helping Professions, pp. 170 – 180, “Exploring the dynamics of groups, teams, and peer groups”
- Jim Marion, Putting on the Mind of Christ consciousness “map” of consciousness levels, as discussed by Amy Skezas
- Jean Vanier, Community & Growth: Our Pilgrimage Together, p.187
- Diana Leafe Christian, Finding Community: How to Join an Ecovillage or Intentional Community, pp. 95 – 101, “What Does It Take to Live in a Community?”