Community life: where’s your place?


The Third Place. Places I want to live. Community. Where is my place?

Places have played a huge role in Coffee Shop Journal and my life as an adult. I am very place oriented, and one of the “tensions” of my adult life has been that I feel wired for one type of community, and find myself living and called to another. I am wired for the types of places you find “up north”: places that have centers, community, people who are bound together by their inhabiting a place. Instead I live in the midst of the new south Florida: rootless people and places that are designed for shopping and cars. I do both of those things very well, by the way, so it isn’t entirely a mismatch!

Lately I’ve been reading the book “11: indispensable relationships you can’t be without” by Leonard Sweet. Most of his chapters are about biblical relationship types, and why we need to include them in our lives today. These are good chapters, and I have several blog posts coming about them. But today I am skipping over all those and jumping to his chapter on relationship with place: you need a Jerusalem in your life. Says the author,

there is a complex relationship between geography and theology, between coordinates and creativity, your commitmnt to place and your commitment to spiritual practices, your philosophy and your placeent.

In other words, your place matters. The place you grew up in (north, for me) shapes who you are, your giftings, your tastes. The place you live in shapes your ministry, who you are with, what you celebrate. Place is important. “And that’s how it should be: no more smug attempts at leaving and forgetting the places that have shaped us — that continue to shape us.” says Sweet.

And yet it is that disconnect to place that often marks our postmodern society. It is why we are restless and rootless, and why we are consciously creating new rituals to connect us to our places. There are so many implications for that longing for place, implications for how we live our lives and how we “do” church.

So with apologies to Leonard Sweet for ripping off his chapter and distilling my own thoughts into it, here are some bullet points that are jumping out at me today. Consider them topics to be thought about, not answers to act on.

  • Be local. Commit to being where you are, diving in and embracing what is local around you.
  • Life boils down to either “moving-in” stories or “moving-on” stories. Which one are you in?
  • Homecoming is often what makes and shapes the journey–even travel has more to do with home than away.
  • “Place” is where we feel strong and secure, able to live life.
  • How do we create “place” for others? Can we share room in our “place”?
  • “I want a home-cooked life.” Love that quote…so full of meaning. And I share the thought, too. Me too!
  • Benedictine monks commit to “obedience, stability and community” in their orders. In other words, spiritual life lived out in a place.
  • Sometimes “going” (as in the great commission) is best carried out by “staying.”
  • Eat, shop and play local.
  • Let the place where you are change you and become part of you.
  • Overcome your nature deficit and connect that to your spiritual life. God created fullness of experience.
  • Honor the experiences God sends by being fully present in them: eat the food, drink the drink, linger at the table.
  • Create homecoming rituals that celebrate the uniqueness of your place.
By Marla Saunders

I am passionately devoted to living my life in the places God has given me. Over the years those places have changed: from homeschooler to businesswoman, from consumer to storyteller. These days I'm focusing on building a new business and figuring out what it means to do everything with integrity and informed by faith.