…let us consider how to stir up one another to love
Appliques being hot glued to the wedding dress
In the short time that we have been here, half the time has been spent getting settled and figuring out the water. The other half, has been preparing for a wedding. We have spent many many days learning our way around the little towns that we live by as well as Managua, which is about 60 minutes away. Meetings with priests, getting all the required documents, marriage prep, shopping. Some days have been fun, some days have been very long and stressful. Either way it has been very consuming.
Community has been a word I’ve heard thrown around since I became Catholic 20 years ago. There’s this nostalgic feeling thinking about living next door to other like minded people. Children growing up being able to play with the neighbor’s kids, in the street and in each other’s homes. Mom’s getting together for tea, or bringing meals to each other after a baby is born. Some people want little farms, some just want all Catholic families in the burbs. Everyone has this ideal that they long for. In the almost 23 years of being married, Mark and I have lived in various communities from small town everyone knows everyone, “oh yeah, your so and so’s grandchild” or “you live in old so and so’s farm.” We have lived in tight knit missionary communities, in poor developing world communities and all sorts in between.
Getting ready for the reception
Something that we have learned though, is that no matter how perfect the community seems, there will be difficulties. Difficult moments in others lives. Some that don’t quite live up to our own ideals. Children that are not quite what we want around our own children. And when it comes right down to it, even in the most Christian of communities, there is sin. There is heartache. There is pain. And it is consuming.
For the last couple of months, I haven’t been able to shake off St. Paul’s continual exhortations. In many places, he talks about how we are to suffer, who it is that we are to avoid, ect, ect. I kind of read those references assuming as what I need to make sure are not in my own life, or he’s talking about the ones outside the community that are trying to get in or what have you. But really most of the early Christians were the the ones like in Act 2 living in these wonderful caring sharing communities. Everything should be hunky-dory, right?
Thinking about the pain of the last two years of our own lives, and the lives of our friends has lead me to rethink about the people that St. Paul is talking too. Why would Paul be spending so much time praying for these Christian communities and exhorting them to encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all (1Thess. 5:18). Well, because there was real life, in and among them. The pain, the heartache and the sin that afflict us in our own communities affected them as well. Rejection, jealousy, immorality, sickness, death, divorce. Real life that we today live with.
Anne, Esther and Rachel helping at the reception
The lovely couple that we have journeyed with this last month are not without their difficult past. And that past haunts them now, and will raise its ugly head again in the future. They both have children from past relationships, have been abused, sinned and were sinned against. We’ve had times where we’ve had to talk and pray with them because of the inability to handle memories and being scared of the future. Their faith has brought them to a realization that they desperately want to do things different this time. They know they need God and they have worked on learning how to be married and make a home. At the same time, another couple who have been married for many years are breaking apart. Th are children involved and sin. St. Paul uses the imagery of fight the good fight, because it is a fight. It is a hell of a fight. Both couples desperately need the christian community in their life to be there for them, encouraging and helping them.
Becky, Anne and Bridget brought up the las arras, the Lazo cord, and the rings
Mark and I need the Christian community desperately. How many others are there in our lives that look perfect on the outside, with nice appliques hot glued unto their lives, but on the inside they desperately need the Christian community? For love, understanding, presence. People are sticky and consuming. Just like the rosary (lazo cord) that is placed around the couple getting married, something needs to help stick us together. St. Paul seems to be saying it is us. Like the las arras, or 13 gold coin pieces, that the groom uses as a promise that he will provide for his family, community will cost us something. It is consuming, tiring, and difficult. It gets yucky.
Is it worth it? What on earth is the point anyway. Only heaven. Heaven on earth. And not only that, we work to bring heaven on earth so that we may gain a reward, “Because there is another Kingdom, because there IS another King” *
“But by seeking to do good works by our brothers and sisters, we lay up for ourselves a good foundation for the future (1 Tim 6:18).