Friday, July 21, 2006

Reflections on The Day Alone

In his book on Christian community living, Life Together, Deitrich Bonhoeffer dedicates a chapter to presenting a picture of discipled living in times lived apart from community. When I read through this work for the first time I was living alone and three hours from family. I was always aware that Life Together had sculpted my dad's thinking and that I have known a vibrant family life as a result. However, I was surprised to finally open this book for myself and find that there was a piece that spoke to me in my season away from home.

From a young age the call of a Christian in a family community was painfully clear. I knew that a peaceful home was the result of obedience to my parents and of love shown toward my siblings. These two requirements bit into my will quite frequently as love always promises to do. Sacrifice and service were challenging, difficult and demanding. Talk of Christian community life was inspiring and noble in the evening hour around the fireplace. Living Christian community life in the bustle of the noonday hour was a task for a lifetime.

When I first picked up Life Together, I realized that I was reading the story of an ideal to which my family strove. As my car bumpersticker says, "IDEAS HAVE CONSEQUENCES." I happened to be quite favorable toward the consequences of the ideas that I was reading, given that I had seen their efficacy at work in my family life. Bonhoeffer spoke of the importance of daily morning and evening family worship. These practiced events in familial community life bookended the day with a focus on the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all things.

Moving away and living apart from family was such a new challenge to me. Of course the love of God and man is a call on every moment of our lives, whether in solitude or community, but the implications of this call often seemed harder to discern in the moments away. For all of the challenges associated with living in Christian community, the gift is that you know the task that lies before you.

However, Bonhoeffer encourages us that in the day alone we are certainly not left without specific ways in which the life of Christ may become more visible. Bonhoeffer reflects on the importance of allowing the work of this time to be that of silence, prayer and intercession. As Bonhoeffer says, "Silence is the simple stillness of the individual under the Word of God."