Human friendships can very quickly become a club of mediocrities, enclosed in mutual flattery and approval, preventing people from seeing their inner poverty and wounds.  Friendship is then no longer a spur to grow, to go further, to be of greater service to our brothers and sisters, to be more faithful to the gifts we have been given, more attentive to the Spirit, and to continue walking across the desert to the land of liberation.  Friendship then becomes stifling, a barrier between ourselves and others and their needs.  It becomes an emotional dependence which is a form of slavery. . . .

Scott Peck talks of pseudo-communities.  These are where people pretend to live community.  Everybody is polite and obeys the rules and regulations.  They speak in platitudes and generalities.  But underlying it all is an immense fear of conflict, a fear of letting out the monsters.  If people start truly to listen to each other and to get involved, speaking from their guts, their anger and fears may rise up and they might start hitting each other over the head with frying pans.  There are so many pent-up emotions contained in their hearts that if these were to start surfacing, God knows what might happen!  It would be chaos.  But from that chaos, healing could come. . . .  And it is then that the miracle of community can happen!  Feeling lost, but together, they start to share their pain, their disillusionment and their love, and then discover their brotherhood and sisterhood; they start praying to God for light and for healing, and they discover forgiveness.  They discover community.

–  Jean Vanier in Community and Growth


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