apart, but not separated

(from left) Cara and Travis Fry, Chad and Katie Allen, Houston and Kelly
Shearon, C & S

The human person is not an individual, not a self-contained being who at some stage in life chooses or elects to be in relationship with another and others. From the very first moment of existence, the infant is toward the other, ordinarily the mother or father, who is in turn toward and for the infant. From our origin we are related to others. We are from others, by others, toward others, for others, just as it is in God to exist in the relations of interpersonal love. — Michael Downey, Altogether Gift: A Trinitarian Spirituality

It began as a one-time thing. A prayer and discernment get-together for a graduate school couple we didn’t really know that well, Travis and Cara Fry. Five couples were there back in August 2005, worshipping, praying, and asking each other and God what to do next.

It went so well, we decided to do it the next week. Almost 10 months later, we’ve met every Wednesday night with three other couples to talk, pray, discern, and eat. Man, has the eating been good. We have celebrated communion together from time to time around the table. We have, at times, taken these gatherings very seriously, sharing tears or “firm discernment,” and have often allowed the Spirit to direct the gatherings as the Spirit willed.

But our group was not about gatherings, first and foremost. The initial gathering led to something so much deeper: Life together. It was about brake pad replacement on our Corrolla. It was about mountain biking every week down at “the trails.” It was about coffee together in the mornings. It was about “girls’ night” and “guys’ night.” It was about countless prayers that we lifted up for each other on a daily basis. It was about sharing together the frustrations, the joys, the anger, the sadness, the love of life.

Wednesday marked the last formal gathering our group will have (in its present state). On Saturday, Chad and Katie Allen will go to Atlanta to spend some time before they travel to Dubai, U.A.E., for a research trip in July. Chad is an accountant who wants to do bi-vocational missions in an Arab country. Travis and Cara Fry will leave next week for a backpacking trip in Colorado and New Mexico (including some much-needed spiritual “filling up” at a retreat center in N.M.) before they move to Tanzania in June to join God in his work there. Houston and Kelly Shearon will finish out a Vista internship with a local non-profit before pursuing further education in international development; they dream of creating sustainable development partnerships in some of the poorest nations in the world. The Holts, of course, will leave June 3 for Boston to join God’s “work already in progress” there.

We have seen God in this group over the last 10 months. We have drunk deeply from the well of Christian community, realizing for the first time the power of the Acts 2 account of the “fellowship of believers.” We have come to see one another as fellow travelers — pilgrims — on a Way that doesn’t promise safety or comfort, but does promise “life abundant.” Traveling with other pilgrims makes the uncomfortable times bearable — even sweet. While we may not gather as regularly from here on out, our little “fellowship of believers” will stay connected by the Cross. Across oceans, time zones, and cultures, we will be connected in our status as pilgrims on this narrow Way and in our passion for introducing others into this most perfect Way.

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