By Rev. Heidi Buswell
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about community and what community means. When we say community we are usually linking something back to a physical place like a town or neighborhood. Sometimes the word community is used to describe a group or organization. However even the organizations – church communities, business communities, sports communities, etc. – link back to some kind of physical location: a church building, sports stadium, corporate office, or chamber of commerce.
The importance of a physical community is very real for our bodies. As a species, we require a physical connection with other people. Without others, we start to feel alone and afraid and things spiral downward from there. But the world is changing and it is time for a shift in the paradigm of how we define and develop communities.
Paradigm Shift – what exactly is a paradigm shift? Usually, when you hear someone talking about one, they simply mean change – the newest thing. Unfortunately, the full meaning of the phrase has been lost in trendy over use. Calling a paradigm shift a change is almost, but not quite, accurate; the missing difference is where the true beauty of the concept lies. The wonderful thing about a true paradigm shift is that while it embraces a major change (the newest thing) it continues to include(and it is often built alongside) the old paradigm. An easy example to visualize is a new, shorter, road linking two places. The old route remains in place, but the new road will pick up the majority of the traffic.
As the energy of the planet shifts to a higher vibration, people are becoming more and more aware of themselves as spiritual beings. While physically based communities (the old paradigm) remain important to us, there is an emerging need for the creation of energetically based spiritual communities (a new paradigm). It is exciting to be part of this amazing shift as it emerges because it means that WE have a part in shaping it.
The “magic of the internet” allows us to make the physical connections our bodies need while taking advantage of the spiritual connections that allow relationships and networks to grow quickly over great distances. We can use Skype or FaceTime or GoToMeeting.com to gather together from a distance. We can network through e-mail, text messages and even the old fashioned telephone. We can validate our spiritual connection to each other by grounding and focusing our attention on the new community we want to create; a community based on spiritual connections.
Bodies need time and space. They need buildings and places and social interaction. We as spirit crave community as well – a sense of being connected. This has always been the case. However in the past we didn’t have the tools necessary to build a spiritual community without all the physical trappings. We now have the ability to build a community that is able to evolve closer to the speed of spiritual change. (Although time and space are still required…) A virtual community can make change quickly but in ways that still make that community real for the body.
CDM is building exactly this type of spiritual community. A community with a physical link, but with a global spiritual focus. I encourage you to play the “wouldn’t it be great” game to shape the community YOU’D like to help create. It’s easy, just think about your dreams and wishes for the growing vision and e-mail them to CDM (firstname.lastname@example.org, attention: Mary Ellen & Jessica). As a long-time member who has always lived a fairly significant distance from any of the church locations, I’ve got some ideas about building a spiritual community using the virtual world.
- Set times for meditations where people can join in at a distance via Skype or GoToMeeting or other internet access. Topics and presenters to lead the meditation could rotate. People could join the meditation individually or they could gather together at a specific location and join as a group. Times could vary on a set schedule to accommodate those living in different time zones.
- A robust internet site that includes thoughts and ideas and a discussion board open to the global community, but also containing a “Members Only” section. The private portion of the website would include updates about the Church relevant only to members. It would also have some kind of a chatroom where people could exchange thoughts and ideas or to speak honestly about any issues they may be experiencing.
- Have virtual location for Members to post messages to other Members to network for physical and spiritual assistance.
- Make reading times more flexible. Since reader and readee are both working from a distance (aka home), have times available that more easily accommodate both people. Have sign-up sheets for those who want a reading and for those who want to read.
- Include a world map on the website with “pins” showing the towns where we have members and how many members there are in each area.
- Explore on-line classes or workshops either live or via some kind of recorded webinar.
These are just a few ideas – some brainstorming – and they may or may not be practical or logistically possible. At this point, logistics and practicality don’t matter. Take the time to shift your perspective about what a church community “should” be. Let your imagination and creativity flow. Use your techniques. Ground and center and meditate on the kind of spiritual community you would like to be a part of creating. Then take the next step and communicate your information back to CDM. It is from our shared vision that our new community paradigm will emerge.