Thursday, March 07, 2013

Learning to Shine

Gathered in the heart of the capital of the greatest empire the world has ever known, Capitol Hill Friends is a community rooted in a unique time and place in history. Many of us work for governments, non-profits, and other institutions that seek to influence the course of national and international events. All of us live within a cultural space where busyness is touted as a virtue, overwork is the norm, and transience is a fact of life. I often refer to our environment here in DC as being a pressure cooker, and the description seems accurate to our experience. Whenever I describe our city this way, my friends and neighbors nod their heads in agreement.

Over the long-term, many of us cannot withstand the pressure. There are many reasons people leave the DC area, but the unrelenting intensity of our city has to be a factor. To live in Washington is to partake in an atmosphere of driven ambition, power games and unrelenting busyness. This is true regardless of your job is or your general attitude towards life. The heartbeat of Empire resounds, and it is nearly impossible to avoid being infused with some of its rhythm.

In this context, we at Capitol Hill Friends have a special role to play. We dwell in the epicenter of power, but we feel an invitation to focus on the margins. We are hearing the cry of those who are buckling under the stress of this unsustainable way of life. We are responding to the longing of those who want justice but are often forced to settle for expedience. We are creating a space for transformation - open ground where we can gather together in the name of Jesus.

As unlikely as it may seem, I sense that our calling is to carve out a space of refuge in the heart of Empire. We are called to create and expand a dynamic, life-giving, encouraging environment where we can grow together and slowly break the habits of our over-burdened, anxiety-filled lives. In a city that can often be filled with so much darkness, we are called to be light.

It only takes a little bit of light to push back the darkness, and as we help others to shine, the radius of our radiance will only grow wider. What does it look like to become a community where we equip one another to shine? How can we inspire hope, joy and peace in one another? Are there ways that we can be training so that the peace and love that we have experienced together becomes infectious? How can we spread the light of Christ throughout our families, social circles, workplaces and neighborhoods?

1 comment:

tastytabloid said...

When I lived in NY, I always felt the same way. Of course, living in any city comes with the hustle and bustle. But I'd describe NY in a similar way - fast fast fast, exciting, busy, valuing work over most else, except perhaps flashy fun. Meeting was such an important break for me from all that, but I wish I'd had the wisdom at the time to realize that I could have used my participation in Quaker community there to help me find more balance within the city.