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Archive for November 19th, 2009

Members Together: Thoughts on Living in Community

Posted by Sarah Jane on November 19, 2009

I spent a good chunk of yesterday planning my next artwork — an interactive piece that will debut in January’s faculty exhibit. The theme of this year’s show is “Presence,” and I’m thinking about what it means to be fully present within one’s community: what kind of engagement and participation that entails. I’m also considering what is lost to a community when some of its members are absent, whether by personal choice or forcible exclusion.

Community has been on my mind a lot recently — the question of what it is to be members together of one body, unified as one while still retaining all our uniqueness and diversity. Many times we seem to take an easy way out and simply remove ourselves from potential sources of conflict, either by opting out of community altogether, or by glorifying bland sameness in place of genuine unity.

Both of these actions, though, keep us from bringing our unique gifts to the community, and from benefiting from the diversity of gifts that others in the community have to offer. We miss out, too, on the validation of having our gifts celebrated, appreciated, and welcomed — and the opportunity to affirm the gifts of others, as well.

Those aren’t insignificant losses. I suspect that in abdicating our membership in the community, we also diminish our own identities, callings, and humanity.

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