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Sense of Community

from http://www.theschooloflife.com

from http://www.theschooloflife.com

This past weekend we “experienced true community” in two unexpected places. We attended a plein air painting gathering in Shelter Cove, CA, where we were warmly welcomed by the tight-knit community hosting the event. Then we visited with the sisters of the sublimely peaceful community at Redwood Monastery, where Thomas Merton visited, shortly before his untimely death in 1968. Generous hospitality and a sense of warmth and goodness permeated our visit to both places.

Alain de Botton proposes that we “look to religion for insights into how to, among other concerns, build a sense of community…” He asserts in his book Religion for Atheists that “religion has some very important things to teach the secular world… rather than mocking religion, agnostics and atheists should instead steal from it—because the world’s religions are packed with good ideas on how we might live and arrange our societies.”

I was introduced to Alain de Botton at a SCIF meeting by Father Paul, another Brit, but just last week made the connection that de Botton is also the founder and Chairman of The School of Life.

“The School of Life is a global organisation devoted to emotional education. We’re fascinated by the sort of questions we’re never taught enough about at school or college: How can relationships go well? What is meaningful work? How can love last? How can one find calm? What’s gone wrong (and right) with capitalism? We love the humanities, especially philosophy, psychotherapy, literature and art – always going to them in search of ideas that are thought-provoking, useful and consoling. We’re about wisdom, emotional intelligence and self-understanding.”

The School of Life has 12 physical campuses around the world, a Facebook page and a blog, The Book of Life.”

Sharing meals and rituals together helps build connections and a supportive community. Differences in beliefs and doctrines can be surmounted by love – the relationships of belonging, in community, together.