Recently, my dear man and I spent three days enjoying the fabulous Pacific Ocean via Dana Point, CA. Our Eastern time zone body clocks caused us to be awake at 4 AM initially, and so we waited with a cup of coffee watching for evidence of sunrise. We were startled the first morning at the number of surfers already congregated IN the surf as the sun slowly rose in the east.
Each day, moving toward Friday, it seemed the number of surfers increased in the light of dawn. We found them fascinating, and so we walked with bare feet in the sand observing behaviors. We wanted to see real Californians catch the waves.
Occasionally, a surfer paddled into the wave, moved to their feet and smoothly balanced atop. Some crashed. And others seemed most content to sit on their board.
By the third day, our beach observations had joined at an amusing connection. We looked out onto the water at the mass of surfers divided into several “small groups” with an occasional loner off to one side or the other. My man and I laughed as we identified ourselves according to social surfers and loners.
I’m not telling who is who…
Yet as our eyes moved away from the surfers and up along the retaining pond between our hotel and the beach, we saw a very similar portrait of congregated community. The only difference was in the species. These were birds.
We got the biggest kick out of observing the birds in similar formation. Some gathered in groupings. Some sat off to one side or another, preferring the quiet of solitude. And from time to time, one particularly energetic fellow would land right in the middle of a group. You could just tell that he expected everyone to scoot over and make room for him.
Our eyes scanned from surfers gathered on the ocean to birds gathered on the sand. Suddenly, together, we caught the message.
All of creation is meant for community!
Even those who chose to be a little more sequestered to the side of the groups, sought community. It was so obvious that we could not deny the lesson. Those who were in the group sometimes separated to go it alone for awhile. Interchangeably, the ones which seemed to prefer solitude intermittently joined a group.
All of these observations and pondering thoughts led me back to God. He is triune in nature, which means that He is community within Himself. God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, existing three in one from eternity past to eternity future. Since God is the very definition and existence of community I have to conclude that He has placed His stamp of approval on the idea of living in community.
Additionally, God’s teaching places the greatest emphasis on relationship, love, encouraging one another, giving generously and taking care of others. A number of men asked Jesus to tell them the greatest commandment. Consistent was Jesus’ answer, and always inclusive of community. Jesus taught: first love God; then second, love your neighbor. Community!
One additional observation in our study of the bird congregation. In the center of the bird gathering was a dead bird. We watched the scenario play out as if we were peering through the ceiling of a funeral home during the visitation of a precious loved one.
A bird or two would walk over to the dead bird, look at it and walk back to the group gathered off to the side. Meanwhile, birds congregated squawking and cleaning feathers off to each side. Some ate tidbits from the sand.
They appeared to be supporting one another. Dare I venture to think? They were encouraging one another as much as birds comprehend death, community, encouragement and grief. We need one another.
On the best surfing days, we need each other. On the darkest days of suffering, we need each other.
Whether we see examples in nature or in various congregations of people in everyday life, it’s true that people seek relationship. Perhaps we simply choose to believe God as our greatest example of living in community. Anyway, that’s the way I see it.
We’re meant to live in community. And Community is a Gift.
What do you think?
Eyes on Jesus and SHINE,