"Getting saved is easy; becoming a community is difficult – damnably difficult."
– Eugene Peterson
I really love Eugene Peterson's recent writings (the above quote was in an old journal of mine, so I don't know what book it's from). He has really come into his own. He is either a sharp-eyed prophet or a crotchety old man, but either way I love to read his stuff.
A few pages later in the journal I found these words, perhaps inspired by whatever Eugene Peterson book I was reading at the time:
Community is not what happens to a group when they finally feel warm fuzzies toward each other. Community doesn't "happen" at all, but rather is, or is not. Community is a noun, and nouns don't happen, they are.
If I am in community with you, I may feel warmly toward you or I may be exasperated with you, but it does not change the fact of community. It seems to follow then, that we can never really "cultivate" community. We can only decide to be one, or not. Community is a question of ontology, not phenomenology.
Now what kind of community we become, that's where the cultivation comes in..