Searching for thin places, To live and die in community

July 04, 2012

To live and die in community

Of course, I have written about how we live in community. We share eating space, living space and sleeping space. I have talked in the past of how we live and live quiet well. This trip, however, I am getting to experience how we “die” in community. No one has actually died, but many of the volunteers are playing “Assassins” a game in which you are given someone’s name and you must hunt them down and “kill” them with a designated weapon. You instantly become suspicious of someone who is carrying around a teaspoon or a carrot or an extremely large book. Once you have knocked them off you begin hunting their prey. Know this may sound a bit over the top for a community which prays to seek peace and pursue it every morning, but the young people have added a unique twist. You have to be alone with your assassin. So, the rationale goes, if you are truly living in community and never alone, you cannot be harmed, even metaphorically. Where three or more are gathered…

A common phrase this week has been, for example, “Dawn, would you like to go for a walk down to the village with me?” This particularly raises an eyebrow when you don’t know the person all that well. If you forget, or become so excited by the invitation, you could end up “dead”. There are alliances being formed, and co-conspirators being named. A friend of mine is leaving this week, and at lunch she announced that if someone has to do the deed, for them to simply let her know where she needs to meet them.

While there are many negative things that can be said about the game, the volunteers are treating it in the depths of friendship and community. Those who have already been eliminated have achieved sort of a cult like status, and are asked again and again to regale us with their demise story. “Exactly how were you lured into the abbey flat to be hammered with a purple hymnal?” It does highlight the imperative of safety in numbers and how we can often place limitations on ourselves by only looking at the negative aspects. Perhaps we can look at things perceived as negative and look for God and community in those things.

That would make it a thin place.