The Enduring Essential Value of Spiritual Community

“The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers and cities; but to know someone here and there who thinks and feels with us, and who, though distant is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.”
- Goethe
The internet has created a web that literally connects every corner of the earth making it possible for billions of world citizens to become a part of virtual communities. Yet we have never been more fragmented, more isolated. Desmund Tutu calls it "a radical brokenness in all of existence.” Our drive toward technological sophistication has contributed to our isolation. We have forgotten or discounted our human need for real connection that is face-to-face, heart to heart, and soul to soul. What chat room or video conference could ever approximate the inimitable preciousness of listening and sharing; of recognizing the me that is you and the you that is me. 
Real community remains relevant, essential and never timelier because so many have forgotten the core human need and source of connection is found in relation to another. When we add the element of the challenge of spiritual awakening, the sangha, or spiritual community provides the essential assurance that one is not alone in their struggle to grow, companions who understand and have lived the inevitable difficulties of the journey.
Community gives us a sense of belonging.  In community, we can share our journey, which can lighten our burdens and deepen our joys.   There is a collective energy in community that can buoy our spirits, especially if we have been struggling on our own.  Jesus said, where two or more are gathered there I am.
There are those who say that churches and spiritual communities are becoming irrelevant and unnecessary since the internet provides a vast supply of spiritual inspiration. It is true that there is a plethora of spiritual food available online. However, those who attend Unity of Santa Barbara on a regular basis consistently report something that happens in the space, with the people, in the moment of inspiration and connection. It is sacred, it is powerful, it is the palpable presence of Spirit. It is as Jesus phrased it, two or more gathered with the intention to seek the Truth together.  Hearts open, walls come down, and there is a feeling of unity and love. Until there's an app for that....we'll keep the doors open.
In unity and love,
Rev. Larry Schellink