September 29, 2010

The Real Experience of Virtual Community

Editor’s note: Back in August, our community and prayer team member, Emmetri Monica Beane (@EpiscopalXian) received a most disturbing early-morning call leaving her feeling empty and alone. Who could she call at that awkward time of day?

It took me a while after hanging up the phone, but I finally realized the Virtual Abbey would be having Morning Prayer on Twitter. While I wasn’t sure I was ready to talk about what had happened, I knew I did not want to be alone. I could join the group for Morning Prayer and settle into the companionship of the community.

Weeks later, I still remember a sense of comfort coming over me once I realized I was not going to be alone through this experience. I had the Virtual Abbey to walk alongside me.

Some traditionalists might argue I should have called my home parish, which I did after a few days. Two people from the parish have gone out of their way to keep in touch with me and see how I am doing. On Sundays, we meet face-to-face and exchange hugs, pass the peace.

With members of the Virtual Abbey, I experience Namaste (trans: God in me speaks to God within you”). Our interactions focus me spiritually.

Online, I never worry about what my hair looks like, how my daughter is behaving, conversations in another part of the church, or if I remembered to lock the car.

Whenever I pray with the Virtual Abbey, no matter what is going on around me, I am somehow fully present for the 140 characters as they appear on my screen. God does a lot with me using that small investment.

As part of the prayer team, I've shared details of my situation with others who lead prayer. They, in turn, have been generous with prayer support, words of wisdom, and tweets of encouragement.

During this difficult time, I have wrapped myself in the Virtual Abbey community. As soon as I tweet, our community rises up within me and around me. Eventually, a tweet appears affirming that there are others who witness that God is who He says is. I am not alone.

Image: Spiritual Awareness Community of the Cascades

1 comment:

Rob said...

Thanks, Emmmi, for putting into words the feelings that many (most?) of us have about the Abbey. A virtual community CAN be as loving and supportive as an "in real life" community. In fact, the Abbey can often provide much quicker responses, prayers and words of support than a traditional community. Thanks again for sharing your experience and your spiritual life with TVA.