Three standout words: Space… Together… Co-creating
As we were starting the year together, there were many moments where others surprise you with a small gesture of kindness and you realise you really get to know each other – like when someone buys your favourite snack, or does the bit of cleaning you hate, or suggests a game even though you’re the only one who likes it!
There were some challenges like being interviewed for the BBC, or the first time standing in front of a class that speaks a foreign language or sitting squeezed together in a car after a long day. On such days you realise you’re growing closer as community and others help you out when you’re in need. And what’s difficult in normal life is difficult in community, too e.g. an ongoing conflict or someone being unwell.
The placements, the Community and also the personality tests have helped me to see myself and others clearer. When you pay attention to what you’ve learned about each other, this makes it easier to live well together.
I’ve also learned some things about praying. It can become so much more than speaking. If you seek this connection while you’re going through ordinary and difficult times, crazy and quiet times this will change you. And the encouraging message is that God is at work in this time I set aside for praying, no matter whether I’m present or distracted, whether I use the same words every time or new ones, whether I feel something or not. Having shared prayer times is important, sometimes others carry you in prayer and another time I can carry them.
I think that church sometimes lacks a sense of real community or being together. My experiences of community, like sharing daily life and speaking about weaknesses, but also the experience of praying continuously together should be part of every church. I can bring in such experiences to my local church and also to my relationships with others.
The placements I did in community offered the chance to try out new tasks and to work together with people of different backgrounds than mine. The feedback and reflection on this experience were really encouraging and helped me with the decision what to do after Community. Spiritual direction has also been quite important, helping me to discern tasks and roles I’m especially gifted for.
I’ve finally applied to work as a lay leader (in a similar function as a vicar) within a Catholic diocese in Germany. My application process has started within Community, and it was good to have the time to consider those questions around vocation but also to pray together about such decisions. In my new role I hope to continue getting to know new people and discovering different ways to live discipleship together.
The time in community has been such a great and important time for me, but I probably can’t guess all the ways in which this experience will accompany me in the future!