Life in Community

Take Courage!

November 22, 2019 by

windmill by a wheat field

This month I would like to share some of my favorite lines by Eberhard Arnold, co-founder of the Bruderhof. In July 1922, he had taken his wife and children for some rest and relaxation at a center of the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Holland.

They had been living in community in the village of Sannerz, Germany, for two years. But for the last few months there had been increasing tension between the members, and it was becoming clear that not everybody shared the same spiritual convictions. For Arnold himself, this led to deep soul searching. He was sure that living in community was more than an interesting experiment in an alternative lifestyle. During the weeks he spent in Holland, this conviction deepened, as did his faith that God would lead them onwards and upwards. He wrote to one young woman who had reported on difficulties at home:

From the first day here in Bilthoven, each day more strongly, I have repeatedly been granted the certainty that the Spirit comes over us few poor, weak people who are known as “Sannerz.” However, that is only possible when the Spirit himself gets a chance to speak. God speaks when we are silent. His will becomes strong when our self-will becomes quiet.… It is good that we have been so shattered. I will say it quite personally: it is good that I have been so shattered, that nothing remained but weakness and wretchedness, worse than nothing – indeed a total lack of enthusiasm. But should that mean that enthusiasm is a thing of the past? No! Never! The time of enthusiasm is not over. It is returning more strongly than ever. Now the life-giving Spirit will break forth still more powerfully so that it is revealed even to the blindest eye.

A few days later he wrote a letter to his sister-in-law, who also had remained in Sannerz. These words continue to inspire me and many others here at the Bruderhof, even if we don’t always see how it is becoming a reality.

Take courage! We must no longer see the little things. What is great must possess us so much that it engulfs and changes the small things. I have courage and joy again for our life, though in the certainty that it will cost a great struggle, but a glorious one. The Spirit will be victorious over the flesh. The Spirit is stronger. It overpowers me, you, one after the other. This Spirit is compassion and independence, flexibility.

Our life will not grow narrower, but broader; not more confined, but boundless; not highly organized, but more fluid; not pedantic, but bolder; not more sober, but enthusiastic; not timid, but more daring; not more human, but more filled by God; not sadder, but happier; not more incapable, but more creative.

All this is Jesus and his Spirit of freedom. He comes to us. So let us not be aggrieved by anything that has happened, but forget wherever others have offended us – just as our offenses need to be forgotten – and let us go into the future radiant with joy. Stay and wait until you are endued with power from on high.


About the author

Emmy Maendel

Emmy Maendel

Emmy Maendel, an author with a particular interest in Bruderhof history, writes a regular blog post featuring timely...

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