"Community is caring for people, but of course as soon as we start caring for people, we know that there are some people who will just drive us up the wall. Some we will really like, because they think like us. Then we risk falling into a world of mutual flattery. We are all so much in need of affection that when somebody gives it to us we want to hold onto it. Then we say to the other person, "You're wonderful! Keep at it! Keep flattering me! You know, it's nice." We're like little cats who need to be caressed. We then begin to pur.
But flattery doesn't help anyone grow. It doesn't bring freedom but rather closes people up in themselves. We are attracted to certain people, and others put us off. We don't get on well with them. They trigger off our anguish. Perhaps they remind us of our fathers and mothers who were too authoritarian or possessive. Some people threaten us, others flatter us. Some meetings are joyful, and others are painful. When we begin talking about caring for people, then we begin to see how difficult it can be. In community we are called to care for each member of the community. We can choose our friends but we do not choose our brothers and sisters; they are given to us whether in family or in community.
We may be called into or choose a particular community, but once we are in community, the brothers and sisters are given. Some will get on our nerves, others will attract us. But community means caring for each one. If we let ourselves be attracted to those who flatter us or who are like us, who share our ideas, then we won't grow. Growth will come as we come closer to people who are different from us and as we learn to welcome and listen even to those who trigger off our pain."
~ Jean Vanier in From Brokenness To Community
This piece comes from one of my very favourite books.
It is one of a handful I would grab
if I had to choose just a few.