Communitas. A Latin word meaning the “spirit of community.” Not “community” per se, but the feelings, thoughts, ideas, and everything that goes into making and sustaining community.
I spoke about 1 Corinthians 12 in a sermon a while bacThat’s the passage of scripture in which St. Paul reminds us that everyone has a place and every member of the body is important—that just because an ear is not an eye and cannot see doesn’t make it any less important.
New Yorker Magazine columnist (and Canadian!) Malcolm Gladwell has made an observation that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something: playing hockey, the piano, an auto mechanic, whatever. Ten freaking thousand hours. There are detractors, but I think we all get the general idea: If you want to be good at something, you have to practice—a lot!
But who has the time? I mean everyone is sooooo busy nowadays. A common refrain I hear is: “I am busier now that I’m retired than when I was working.” For whatever reason we are all busy and nobody has the time, inclination or patience to become an expert at anything.
But it used to be that what people used to be proud of wasn’t how busy they were but rather if they were a “Jack of all trades, master of none.” A generalist. A person who could bake a cake, build a rec room, change her car’s brakes, splint a broken arm, read Plato’s Republic and sit down and do the crossword puzzle. We read Scientific American
It used to be that if you couldn’t do any one of these things you’d call on your neighbour. He’d help you put up your storm windows, you’d water her petunias when she went away for two weeks holiday in August. Nobody was an expert, but some people were better at some things than you were. We relied upon one another. There was … communitas.
We needed each other.
Now we think that if we spend 10,000 hours we can do everything and not need anybody. Sure, we can do this. But why would you want to? The social isolation that we are experiencing is unprecedented and some social scientists believe that this can be considered the root cause of many of the mental illnesses that plague the First World (but funnily enough aren’t found in places where the only things people are rich in are relationships).
I tend to be a bit of a loner. If I’m not doing churchy stuff, I’m not “out there.” But thank God I have the Church: You. I have finally come to realize that I can’t do it all myself. I can pray all the prayers I need all by myself. I can’t heal all the broken hearts out there all by myself. AND - I have come to realize that I’m needed too. That I have a place in the community - that what I can do and more importantly WHO I AM is necessary for communitas.
Together we are the community of the Church. The body of Christ.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
~ Ephesians 4:15-17