3 Stand out words – Depth… Direction… Renewed
One of thing I’ve found while living with others in this powerful prayerful environment is knowing that even though we all have different roles to play, everyone comes together as a body of people all committed to one thing, Community. As you can imagine this one thing is many different things wrapped up into one but is always acting as the core thing we come back to.
The biggest highlights within our Community for me was sharing meals together, gathering to play games, going out to events, the times of reflection we had to process all we did and learnt; and most importantly sharing this rhythm of prayer that has become such an important and deepening practice for me. Even though it was tricky sometimes living with people who have different ways of doing things and unique ways of living, there’s still a lot to be gained from living with people from different countries and of different ages – even if you’re fighting over who broke the toaster!
One of the most important things I’ve learnt from community is how vast and diverse Christianity is. This is something I learnt from meeting the huge variety of Christian visitors we had at the community from a huge range of different denominations, some of my favourites being sister Bev talking about Franciscan theology and Pete Ward going through the history and work of the 24/7 prayer movement. It’s been a real awakening for me to see how people express themselves differently through their faith, it was also just as interesting to visit people from other faiths within the city through our friends at the St. Philips centre as the city of Leicester is massively diverse in faith.
While at the community I had started seeking a vocation within the Church, something I really didn’t have in mind at the start of the year. Within my experience of placements and interacting with variety of different people, I have felt a calling to chaplaincy. Due to the Covid crisis I wasn’t able to start a hospital chaplaincy placement, but when lockdown lifts, I hope to take this up to see if the role of chaplaincy is something I’m gifted in.
The biggest part of the community I’ll take with me is how important prayer really is. Before I came to the community my prayer life was somewhat lacking. I think that’s because I didn’t see how important or how life changing continuous prayer can be and how it connects to my personal relationship to Jesus. Another important thing is that living in community always seems to morph into family to me. I became very close with the people I lived with, spent a lot of time with the companion families and it just becomes something a lot more, a community I guess. So, even though I’ve finished my year now I know I’ll be back to visit, not just the building, but this lifelong fellowship of friends at the Community of the Tree of Life.