I am making arrangements for our dogs while we go on vacation. Dogs are a study in community. On the one hand, they love to lounge around on your lap and be pretty (they are all small dogs.) On the other hand, each one has a personality, an agenda in the house, and ways of seeking that agenda. The Jack Russell is top dog, and makes her location just below the humans known to the other dogs on every occasion that presents itself. Then the full-sized long-hair dachshund who is content to sit on your lap—as long as you’re petting her; and beware of any food near her nose! The bottom of the heap, the long-hair mini-dachshund, is just cute and he knows it. He sits on your lap with puppy eyes until he has had enough, and then he gets down to do his own thing. Beware of ignoring him too long, however, for he can be very passive aggressive, getting revenge with surprises on the floor. They have individuality, but they also have order. Super-imposed on that order is the order we demand, which keeps the JR in her place under us, yet gives room for her own abundant energy to be expressed.
Order and spontaneity, structure and chaos, groups and individuals, these are the flip sides of community. We all need them both. When order suppresses individuality people rebel. When individuality suppresses order people get neurotic. One and the other, a constant dynamic tension which in itself creates a delicate and ever-changing same-ness which is community.
Human’s community with the divine isn’t much different: The Ground of All Being is also the One known to me. God is both present and absent, behind all things and yet somehow very much within and through all things, imminent and transcendent, personal and transpersonal. The Christian metaphor for God is community—a trinity of persons in oneness of being. Perhaps God is known in the delicate and ever-changing same-ness which is community because of such is the nature of the divine.