People can get lost in communities - they can be quite happy being unnoticed but not always so. And anyway what is community for but to recognise the other - in a safe and loving environment?
On Monday night I attended a very inspirational midsummer's eve gathering at the Meeting House. This was not a special do but one of our monthly meditational gatherings where we take a less structured approach, more music, fewer words and, by and large, no hymn singing. The woman leading it has been with us a couple of years and has led services before. Yesterday evening's was a good one - wonderful words and a great sense of spiritual connectedness in these and the music. On walking out into the rain she said something along the lines of, 'I think that I am getting used to speaking publicly."
For those of us who will speak to anyone, at any time, about practically anything, it is hard to imagine how some people fear public speaking. I remember winning a vote to attend a union conference (I was in my late twenties) when the local shop steward had failed to get enough votes. He asked if I would give my place to him because he was proposing a motion and I would have to do this if he wasn't there. Talking to 3,000 - bring it on! He would have been more successful if he'd said that I wouldn't be allowed to speak. But for some the idea of speaking to others, as when leading a service, can be unthinkable. Just as some people won't wash up - but perhaps that's not about fear :)
We can offer support and hand-holding and then be amazed and delighted at the result. The ancient link between 'church' and 'psychology' had been lost by the twentieth century but in the latter part of the century with ideas like holism it has crept back in. We recognise the difficulties that separating out parts of ourselves can lead to. We are not offering psychotherapy but a place to address our own demons - sharing them with others and working towards either overcoming them or accommodating them more comfortably.
For many our communities are not just spiritual homes but places where we can bring ourselves for 'healing'. The healing comes about through our relationships and how we support each other in moving towards being that person that we were born to be. It seems to me that this is one of the prime responsibilities for us as spiritual community members - both in supporting others and also in being brave in looking as honestly as we can at ourselves and being bold in committing to personal change.