[Most of my journeling in Vienna was accomplished pen to paper (how retro, I know) but I am finally getting around to putting them up as posts.  I will be doling them out over the next few days (because I don’t think many of you love me enough to read them all at once).  They are in no particular order.]

Vienna Diary
October 15 

Robb and I are in Vienna finding out more about an opportunity for him to teach at an American school here.  We were talking to the director last night and he was explaining his heart and vision for the school.  One of the pillars of that vision is that it be a “caring community” first among staff and their families and then reaching out to the students and their families. 

Caring Community is a phrase that more and more churches and Christian organizations are throwing around and assuming that everyone else knows what they are talking about.  But … what are we talking about?  Sometimes it is used to describe a program, sometimes a vision for what a group or organization would like to become and sometimes a description of what they believe they have achieved.

As he was sharing his heart with us and letting us know what we would be getting ourselves into if we end up coming to teach in his school in Vienna, I had an overwhelming desire to return the favor; to let him know what he would be getting into by taking our family into his community.  I said to him, “I know that you already know that when a family comes here, they leave behind their entire support system and those within the ministry have to become one another’s support, the caring community.  I want you to know that it’s going to be harder with my family.  Because of our situation  with an adolescent with special needs, there are going to be challenges that you haven’t anticipated.  I want to make sure that you are as informed and willing to take us on as we are to take you on.”

It gave him pause, let me tell you.  And he appreciated that I brought it up.  And it was the subject of much discussion throughout the week.  Mostly, I think, I was trying to say, don’t forget about us; don’t forget about me.

And I think that’s as good a definition of Caring Community as any – not forgetting about each other.  It means noticing one another and taking the time to find out what’s underneath the facade.  And then doing something about it, rejoicing with those who rejoice, mourning with those who mourn.  It means encouraging the faint hearted and taking courage from others when you need it yourself.  It means laying down your life for your friend – most of us will never have to do that literally – but when was the last time you set yourself aside, put your agenda and your needs on hold and let someone else’s need dictate your time for an hour, an afternoon or a day?

Do you have this kind of support system in your life?  Are you this kind of support for others?  What did I miss in my definition of caring community?