The first six months of our community were powerful, and busy. Between occupations, noise demos, marches, fundraisers, long nights of jail support – between Occupy ICE and the Prison Strike and anti-fascist counter-demonstrations – we were always seeing each other, always in the streets, always praying. We prayed before, during, and after actions. We prophesied a way out of apostasy to the cops who struck us down with batons. We experienced state violence, again and again and again, and saw Philly’s Left usher in real political victories. Our fellowship was bound together in the struggle. Somehow, for a time, we managed to have two prayer meetings a week, one structured by the Book of Common Prayer and the other Quaker-style, grounded in silence. Some of us even met spontaneously for prayer meetings.
The magic of revolution felt like it was infesting everything. A new world felt so close, and so possible. And we began to get a fuller grasp of both discipleship and fellowship – of what it meant to be a community seeking God’s kin-dom together.
I know winter always hits people hard, but this year felt especially bad. A lot of people in my life, myself included, had a hard time functioning much. Here in Philadelphia, as the Friendly Fire Community, many of us were burnt out and honestly very depressed. Energy was low, and a lot of our projects had to be pushed to the side, some even laid down.
Some of us were scared that this was a bad sign. That we were dying as a community. Maybe some of us were scared that we were no longer faithful, or led by the Spirit.
The disillusionment and exhaustion we experienced this winter pushed us to re-think our work and listen to our communal capacity. We had to remember and explore why we were organizing together and what our vision was. We had to figure out how to care for each other, how to support one another. We still are.
There are moments of acceleration, powerful inspiration, where the heavens feel like they are opening directly over us, and there are dry seasons, where things move slowly, where we constantly feel like we’re pushing, and God may feel distant, or unreal. And sometimes, we don’t get along. We get mad at one another, and hurt one another. The growing pains of community are real.
The truth is, we weren’t dying as a community. We were very much becoming a community.
Community is sanctifying. Together, we are learning how to receive, exercise, and experience God’s mercy and grace. We are learning how to listen and yield to God as a people, but also to one another, and to our community. We are discovering, over and over again, how to love each other. There’s no formula to make this work. We wish there was more precedence for this sort of community. Together, though, we are listening to the saints who have gone before us, to each other, to the people, and the Spirit of the living God, as we seek to truly become an apocalyptic community – a love-drunk band of militant disciples struggling towards a new world. We give thanks to God for being such fools.
We’re still meeting most Tuesdays (except the third Tues. of each month – we encourage folks to instead attend Philly for Real Justice’s monthly meeting) for prayer. Email us if you’re looking to join our meetings at email@example.com. We are also organizing a summer retreat in so-called Minnesota – you can apply here.