Day 39: Sustaining Community

BY JEFF PEAK | March 23rd, 2024
Today’s readings

It was a picturesque, mid-September, Saturday morning, and I was on a retreat in Northern Illinois accompanying 37 students and staff on Loyola’s Eco-Spirituality, Adventure – Fall Retreat. About an hour earlier, the group started a 6.5-mile hike along the Prairie Trail in McHenry County, and I was waiting with the supply van about two miles from the trailhead watching for the first hikers to make it to checkpoint number one. 

While I could see the location of the leaders with my phone and knew that they were less than a quarter mile away, I started to get a little concerned when after another 20 minutes of waiting, the group still hadn’t made it to the checkpoint. Curious, I backtracked along the trail to look for everyone.

Not far away, I located the group. They were exploring the area around a stream that intersected with the trail. A handful of students were pointing out reptiles and amphibians in the water to their classmates while another group was enjoying the sights and songs of the birds in the trees. The remaining few students could have continued onward, but this moment of community, with nature and with their classmates, felt too important for them to leave behind.

Photo of the creek referenced in the reflection provided by the author.

This community that I witnessed on retreat came to mind when reflecting on the community present in today’s Gospel. We are about to head into Holy Week, Jesus sensed the impending threat upon his life from the religious authorities, and instead of pressing on alone, Jesus remained with his disciples to face the challenges ahead. So, too, are we called today. With the continued destruction of the environment, and the ever-worsening impacts of climate change, it’s tempting to isolate and feel overwhelmed by this crisis. Yet, like Jesus, we require community. Reconnecting with nature, and encountering challenges with others, we have the grounding and courage to work toward climate solutions and face the road ahead.

Questions for reflection: 

  • In what ways has community sustained you in your work for justice?
  • In what ways are you called to be in community with others during challenging times?
5 replies
  1. David F
    David F says:

    As to community: I feel like I have not yet begun to achieve what I had hoped to as regards f inding a supportive church in either the Roman Catholic or Episcopalian traditions. It would take too long to outline the going around in circles feeling over the past four decades. I have had to try to take advantage of online alternatives because I do not see to drive and cannot always find rides to church. I feel – as I did during graduate school and before — like a shadow guest. Even health concerns bring up these feelings in that I was denied treatment in my community and had to find a driver to bring me over an hour away to a different medical specialist group.

    • Maggie
      Maggie says:

      David, I’m sorry to hear of your difficulties in finding a community. Someone in our community comes to church by way of a ACCESS van run by the county. I can see that if something like this is not available where you live it would be difficult. I pray that you find an in-person community.

  2. Cathe
    Cathe says:

    Beautiful article! The power of community is incredibly sustaining, especially during difficult times. It is totally amazing how the courage to carry and face hardship lessons when surrounded by people who love and support!
    So grateful for my community!


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