While it was not intentional, it is appropriate that the element of discipline, or habitual activity, should follow the blog on the organic nature of community. I say this because, for most of us, structured consistency and vitality are antithetical concepts. Think about it. If I were to describe a friend's prayer life as habitual, would you think I was paying him a compliment or accusing him of legalism? Our problem is that we often confuse spontaneity with sincerity and structure with oppression. However, it is extremely naïve to think that communities just spring up out of the ground of good intentions. We must learn to embrace the paradox that the spontaneity of life is actually promoted and preserved through structure.
I was reminded of this last week. Occupied with my studies, I had forgotten my habitual Tuesday visit to the grocery store. When dinner time rolled around that evening and I was staring into a fairly empty fridge, I felt the fallout of my omission. Dinner that night was eggs and rice. It looked as bland as it sounds. The next day I repeated the error and forgot to go to the grocery store, and, once again, we ate eggs and rice. Sadly, my absent-mindedness continued another couple days, and we continued living off of the same staple. At one point, I tried bathing the elements in barbecue sauce, but that accomplished little for in the end, it was still just eggs and rice. Those tasteless and fairly monochromatic meals etched in my mind the direct relationship between my preparedness and the potential for creativity.
Applying this principle to the house, we have found (through trial and error) that we grow best together when we submit to an agreed upon structure. This structure involves house meetings, prayer times, chores, community service and planned leisure. Outsiders may consider this type of approach too regimented. We discovered, however, that when we just wait for spontaneous and emotive expressions of community, we end up missing each other.