people forming round by shoes

Beloved Community

Beloved Community: You’re Invited

What does beloved community mean and what steps might we take to create beloved community?


In every new arising there are three forces involved:
affirming, denying, and reconciling.

Cynthia Bourgeault, The Law of Three

After 18 years of making “the journey” our home, my husband and I are back in Connecticut where we began. There are still people who can tell me the story of the day I was born. Two of my siblings and several of my cousins live right across the state line in New York. It is the place where I belong. But that does not mean that my sense of belonging is experienced by all.

In my mostly prosocial town, there is an inordinate number of traffic stops for those whose skin color is different than mine. As progressive as we like to think of ourselves, our privilege betrays us in the statistical reports. One Easter, a family friend was stopped leaving our house; he was black. Our mayor was mortified to hear that a guest to our community was stopped while “driving black.” Of course, these incidents don’t even tap into the risk of being killed, or the collective trauma experienced by people of color.

So where does that leave us? What will be our response to the on-going loss of life? Will we claim our moral responsibility to act? In the aftermath of the Chauvin verdict, what is our call? I’m reminded of words from John Lewis, conscience of congress even now, “if not us, then who? If not now, then when?” 

How we define “community” will determine our future. Will we choose to be beloved community… or not? How we engage with one another—stranger, friend and even enemy—will reflect the depth of our commitment to living as beloved community. It will require a third force, in addition to the affirming and denying forces currently at work. Cynthia Bourgeault in her book The Law of Three describes this force as the reconciling force: 

The most important thing to keep in mind here is that this third force is an independent force, coequal with the other two, not a product of the first two as in the classic philosophy of “thesis, antithesis, synthesis.” Just as it takes three independent strands of hair to make a braid, so it takes three individual lines of force to make a new arising. This third force serves to bring the other two forces (which would otherwise remain disconnected or deadlocked) into relationship, from which forward momentum can emerge. 


This coming Saturday, April 24, from 9:00 am-noon (Central), we have a unique opportunity to dwell in community with Anita Howard, activist, researcher and professor at Case Western Reserve University, who will be sharing her research and journey as it relates to Beloved Community. Together, we will explore what it means to be beloved community today, and steps that we might take to create it. Click here to register.

Community doesn’t just happen. It takes intention that involves both an inward and outward movement. Ultimately, it is the most challenging of disciplines from which we receive the greatest of gifts: a sense of belonging and purpose—and, if we keep working at it, an experience of beloved!

Hope to see you Saturday!

Deborah