Whenever someone asks to join the community, one of first questions we ask is, “Why do you want to live in community?” For me, the most memorable response to that question came a few months ago when someone answered, “Because I want to be a part of this family.” This short meditation on family by Marilyn Robinson (in an essay entitled “Family”) gets at what we’re trying to accomplish in our life together. It’s a bit utopian, but it I think she puts her finger on the key virtue of family and community – commitment to one another.

“Imagine this: some morning we awake to the cultural consensus that a family, however else defined, is a sort of compact of mutual loyalty, organized around the hope of giving rich, human meaning to the lives of its members. Toward this end they do what people do — play with their babies, comfort their sick, keep their holidays, commemorate their occasions, sing songs, tell jokes, fight and reconcile, teach and learn what they know about what is right and wrong, about what is beautiful and what is to be valued. They enjoy each other and make themselves enjoyable. They are kind and receive kindness, they are generous and are sustained and enriched by others’ generosity. The antidote to fear, distrust, self-interest is always loyalty. The balm for failure or weakness, or even for disloyalty, is always loyalty.”