I have a sort of love/hate with community. When I was in seminary, I hated the forced attempts at "community building." For me, those kinds of events never seemed to do the trick. I didn't necessarily feel like I was part of the seminary "community." "The lonliest place is alone in a crowd," someone said to me recently. And I thought that's what I felt.
But, now as I look back on my life, I see how often I felt that I was alone in the crowd, not really part of a community but outside on the fringes, looking in and aching to be a part of the group. Now that I'm in a completely different place, I realize that I was part of a community. It may not have been that formal community that I felt was trying to be formed without sucess, but it was a real community. It was the community forged through common experiences, through informal times spent together over meals and homework and walks to work. It was the community forged through honesty and openness because we had the time to learn to trust each other.
But here I am now, aching for community and realizing that I can't have it. For lots of reasons. I haven't had time to learn to trust. I'm in a position that puts me on display and doesn't present the opportunities I need for it truly to be about giving and receiving from all of us. Friends are nice, but I can only show so much of myself without taking people's pastor away from them. I will never try to take someone's pastor away--whether that pastor is me or anyone else.
So it's now that I see how lonly it is to be alone in a crowd. I am almost always around people and almost always feel alone. And I'm just not sure what to do about it.