Ok, last post related to the Canucks...maybe ;-)
I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog and elsewhere talking about community - my passion and belief that humans are meant to be in meaningful relationships with one another and strive to make a difference in this world...together.
The difficulty is that community cannot be fabricated. Try as we might, we cannot simply flick a switch and choose to get along, be it in friendship, marriage, church, or politics. Community is hard work!
Oftentimes it’s crisis or trial that unites people together. It’s why sports are such a great venue to form community. Do you think the Bruins or Canucks would have gotten as far as they did this year if it wasn’t for the uniting process of struggle through the playoffs? Not to sound cliche (!!!), but overcoming adversity creates harmony. As Alan Hirsch describes, in his book Faith of Leap, “any member of a sports team can recall something of the profound sense of intimacy they with their teammates, when each of their contributions to the game create a force greater than the sum of their individual parts.”
Hirsch goes on to describe biblical images of community, highlighting themes of exile and pilgrimage to remind the people of God that our purpose is not safety and comfort in the world, but unity and witness to a world so often lacking the distinct character of unity God calls us to. This type of community - “communitas” as Hirsch calls it - “propels us out of self-concern to other-concern, from holy huddle to venturing out into God’s world.”
As hard as it was to watch as a Canucks fan, this togetherness was evident in the Bruins post-victory comments. Praise for teammates, family, coaches, and teachers were on the lips of the players. I didn’t hear anyone say, “I did it.” Similarly, even in loss, the Canucks reiterated their shared responsibility and disappointment. The struggle of the journey, whether it ends in victory and loss, unites.
But the hockey playoffs end. Player disperse, get traded, retire, or sign elsewhere. Next year is a new team. Life, however, doesn’t have the same turnover. We continue on the journey. While a sports team experiences a sort-of insulated and short-term community over the course of a playoff run, we have the opportunity of experiencing such community over the course of our lives.
Instead of going it alone, consider asking these questions about your community and circle of friends:
-What are the adversities that we share?
-What are our common goals?
-Where will my sacrifice bless someone else?
Beyond being hyper-connected in our technological age, a shift from self-concern to other-concern pushes us to also be deeply-connected. We see it in hockey playoffs. We read about it in biblical stories of faithfulness. Now we need a willingness to risk the venture ourselves.