Sitting next to this random, chance travel companion proved very much to be a lesson in communio. Tate shared that at 53 years of age, he had never been married nor had children. Much like Abraham, Tate believes with all his heart that God has promised him a deep family line, beginning with a wife and children of his own. Admittedly, this promise is not about leaning on his own understanding of logic, or biology for that matter, but rather the promise that God has a plan for his life.
Tate’s journey began nearly 15 years ago with a mission trip to South Africa; interesting, especially since Dave and I will be embarking on a similar trip to the very same location in 8 short days (moments like this affirm that God has a great sense of humor). Upon his return home, Tate fell into a deep state of meditation and reflection. While many of his mission trip travel companions felt called into ministry abroad, Tate struggled to find his vocation. It became very clear to him that God’s message was “love THY community.” As Christians, we spend so much time going forth into the world for evangelism that we forget about educating and nurturing our own. Thus, “community” became Tate’s calling.
While much of his energy is spent locally, Tate has also felt called to communities abroad. Twice he has traveled to Israel; twice he has received both an affirmation of his vocation and a very clear message from above. Without a wife, fiancé or even partner back at home, Tate was led to purchase a beautifully cut stone from a diamond mine near Jerusalem. The message was clear: flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bone. One day, Tate would meet the future owner/bearer/promise-keeper of this ring. The second such message resulted in the purchase of a hand-crafted nativity scene from a Middle Eastern market. Tate was very clearly directed to purchase this masterful artwork to pass onto generations – HIS generations.
As the flight wore on, Tate uncovered much more of his life and personal struggle to find peace in waiting. I found myself growing anxious that God had crafted such a special interaction without the slightest bit of usefulness on my part. Wouldn’t it make sense that God could use me as a vessel to deliver a message to Tate? That somehow, in all my 32 years, I could offer some semblance of wisdom in exchange for Tate pouring out his life’s story? Wouldn’t that make sense? Well, maybe it would. Maybe if it was about me or about my plan. And therein lies the point – it’s not.
We often don’t know the reason for interactions such as this until long after the moment has passed. I gather that I will reflect on this experience for a great time to come. What exactly defines communio? I suspect the very act of defining such a generous, all-encompassing subject – and quite frankly, action – limits our ability to truly be “community.”
And so in the spirit of communio, thus begins the adventure . . .