A Quality of the Heart

Tuesday, January 24

{Kevin's going away party a little over a year ago. Every day I thank God that he went, but I also thank him equally that he came back to marry me!}

Tonight is girls group, and I stand giddy like a school girl. I thank God for enriching my life with their smiles, and laughter, and curiosity, and gentleness. Tonight we are dusting off the ol' juicer (well, more like new juicer...it was a wedding gift, thanks Benders!). I thought it would be fun to give each girl a few fruits and veggies and let them go at it! Maybe i'll be adventurous and buy some exotic fruits to try out? We'll see....

Today I got an email from a dear dear soul in Kenya. Her name is Nikole, and while i've never actually met her face to face, she is one of those people I feel I have been friends with my whole life. (Think Julia Child and Avis DeVoto) Her story is beautiful, rare, inspiring. After high school she up and moved to Kenya with hardly a connection, and now, years later, she is married to a wonderful Kenyan man and they are courageously and spontaneously living life in Mombassa. The initial threads to their story which began with the start of a soccer team made up of street boys in the community, has been woven into an ever expanding tapestry of ideas and programs for the future.
{the lovely Nikole in Kenya, doing what she does best }

Nikole shared with me her heart's desire of starting a girls program in Mombassa, called Rhema girls. Emails has come and gone between us, capturing and dialoguing what it looks like to share our lives with girls in the communities where we live, whether that is California or Kenya. My mind has been spinning in wheels of community. That is the heart beat Jesus has given me- community.
So today I emailed Nikole, and God gave me a glimpse of His wisdom through a favorite author, Henri Nouwen. It struck a chord.

Community, a Quality of the Heart
The word community has many connotations, some positive, some negative. Community can make us think of a safe togetherness, shared meals, common goals, and joyful celebrations. It also can call forth images of sectarian exclusivity, in-group language, self-satisfied isolation, and romantic naiveté. However, community is first of all a quality of the heart. It grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another. Community is the fruit of our capacity to make the interests of others more important than our own (see Philippians 2:4). The question, therefore, is not "How can we make community?" but "How can we develop and nurture giving hearts?"

Isn't that an interesting spin to community? Generally we view community through a selfish lens, asking ourselves "what can I get out of this?". Often we desire community for the end gain of our own happiness. Right or wrong, I believe the question Nouwen begs us to ask ourselves is how is our heart postured towards community? Are we postured in a way to see community as an avenue for self gratification or personal happiness, or do we find that with every opportunity to be in community is a chance to love as Jesus did when he stooped to wash his friends feet?
Community therefore becomes an issue of the heart:) To be in community is a precious gift God lavishes on his beloved children, and yet his sacred desire is for us to posture ourselves as Jesus did, looking to commune with others through a genuine display of servanthood.

For myself, and probably many of us, this might require some diligent prayer asking God to wipe away the shameful selfishness of our being. For how often do we view fellowship as a way to advance ourselves? When people go on and on about themselves and never ask you a single question, we are annoyed. Often, when layers are peeled back, community becomes more about M-E than any other pronoun.

As we all seek after community in different areas of our life, let us be intentional about caring more for the interest of others than for our ourselves. May we see fellowship as a divine moment of love and service towards one another. And will we stoop to wash each others feet?

And while the girls will be juicing their fruit tonight, God will be reminding me that just like the fruit going into the juicer that is squeezed and broken and yet produces an end result that is delicious and pleasing, he is asking me to give my life for the squeezing and breaking so that in the end He shall be glorified in the beauty!

Here's to Community my friends!! Love Katie
{love 'em!}

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