In church on Sunday, I shared about my experience with skiing for the first time. I have lived in Colorado for almost twenty years, and this past weekend I finally braved the slopes. A good friend of mine patiently taught me every step of the way, responding to my frustration with encouragement. She literally picked me up every time I fell. I thought this was a sweet picture of beloved community – I pushed myself to participate, and she met me exactly where I was.
I talked through this story with our youth group. I asked them how they imagined beloved community. One of our middle schoolers said that a ski lodge is the perfect place to experience beloved community. Up on a ski lift, complete strangers can become momentary friends. Everyone there understands the difficulty of walking downstairs with ski boots on, and everyone patiently waits.
Openness, patience, and understanding were the top traits that our students picked out as necessary for beloved community. They agreed that in order to build a beloved community, you have to show up as your whole, authentic self and engage fully. Participants need to agree on a covenantal relationship of kindness and mutual respect. They said this seemed “utopian” – perhaps even impossible to achieve in the state of our world. But I believe God wants us to join in the work of making a better world. So, I asked them where they find glimpses of beloved community. Skiing. Drama club. Youth group. Boy Scouts. Their friends. Their families.
Where do you find your beloved community? How are you making beloved community? How can we collectively move Plymouth towards our ideal beloved community? Look to this next generation. They get it.