While my family was in San Diego last month for our reunion, we visited the San Diego Zoo. Our tour bus driver entertained us with very realistic animal noises along the way and took an extra long pause by the elephant area to share more about them. He told us that elephants are sympathetic animals. If one of them is distressed, the others will form a circle around him and rest their trunks on his back. Providing him with encouragement until his spirits are back up again. I love imagining what such a caring elephant herd must look like.
In The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp challenges us to see beyond our own suffering and to enter into others' brokenness.
“You are where you are for such a time as this—not to make an impression, but to make a difference. We aren't here to one-up another, but to help one another up.”
“Every soul wants more than a powerful experience. It wants to experience a powerful connection. More than being in awe, what the soul seeks is intimacy with the other. More than profoundly astonished, we want to be profoundly attached. Communion, koinonia, is the miracle. More than seeing and experiencing something beautiful, we want to be fully seen and experienced by someone. More than intimately knowing wonders, we want to know the wonder of being intimately known.”
“You are to pay special attention to those who by accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.” St. Augustine
“The way through brokenness is, and always has been, to break the sufferer free from the aloneness of the suffering by choosing to participate in the suffering with them—koinonia—choosing to stand with the suffering, stay with the suffering, and let it all be shaped into meaning that transcends the suffering...entering into each other's suffering is how to make life communion.”
Jonathan Cleveland challenged us in this area as well, in a sermon two weeks ago called Flourishing:Community. He said that our ability to flourish is tied to other people. Either we flourish together of none of us really flourishes. Our Shepherd wants us to value others' flourishing when we'd rather just be concerned with our own. We all need a flock.
Last Thursday I sat around a table with seven staff members at David and Daniel's school. I felt like I could picture our boys as two needy little elephants in the middle of a circle of wonderful caring adults, asking me how they could provide the best care for them after their surgeries on February 2. I felt overwhelmed by all of their concern and initiative taken to make things happen for our boys to have the best recoveries possible.
Daniel is having reconstructive surgery to help correct the spina bifida deformities of his right foot, and David will have both lower legs broken to straighten out his in-toeing from club feet. Both boys will be in wheelchairs for a month and then walking casts for another month. God has blessed us with the amazing gift of community; we are not walking this journey of suffering alone. Others are joining in with us; lifting their trunks into the middle of the huddle.
Communion in community.