Every living being is driven to be a part of community. Newborns of every species cannot survive without community. Who would feed them? Who would train them in survival tactics? So the issue we humans have to struggle with is, “What kind of human community?”
Early in the history of planet earth when human beings became a part of the “animal kingdom”, human communities were scattered and separated. Each had its own community structures: language, hierarchies, rules of conduct, family structures, etc. Separation of those early communities were enhanced by geographical realities: oceans, mountain ranges, rivers, etc. In the 21st century the primary realities that still separate us are color of skin, language, religious understandings, distribution of wealth, and education. In our day it more important than ever before in history that we learn how to love and care for one another both locally and globally.
When community expands beyond immediate family, one of two things can happen. Either the enlarged community can embrace the expanded variety of ideas and understandings about life and celebrate the richness of diversity, or it can become stunted and overbearing, looking down on all those “not like us!” Religious communities have demonstrated both of those possibilities.
Every human being also experiences aloneness. Sometimes this experience happens when there is literally no one else around. Sometimes the aloneness is experienced in a crowd. Whichever setting of aloneness we are in, it is possible for us to be “in communion” with others. I am certain that Jesus’ disciples experienced dialogues with him long after his crucifixion in ways that brought peace, laughter, tears, insight, new direction, marching orders, and accountability. Having dialogue with others whose physical presence is not involved is what I am pointing to with the category of “Meditative Council”.
There are four categories of persons, both living and dead, that we all need to have as a part of our meditative council, and we need to communicate with them on a regular basis if we are serious about making a positive impact in life. They also need to represent a wide diversity of race, creed and color, as well as males and females. We need to converse with and listen attentively to all of them. They fall into four categories: 1) Mediators, 2) Priors, 3) Saints, and 4) Colleagues.
Mediators can be described as those who make no demands upon us, but they remind us of our “greatness” and of the wondrous possibilities we have in making a difference in this world. They see great possibility in everyone they touch.
Priors are those who demand that we be the greatness that we can be and they hold us accountable for the use of that greatness .
Saints are those who are examples of greatness. They make no demands on us, but their life keeps reminding us that there is no limit to what can be done with love, fortitude and a refusal to be paralyzed by fear.
Colleagues are those who understand the exponential increase in effective change when persons work as a team for the good of all.
Choose your meditative council and listen to them attentively and often. No one can take that community away from you.