Faith and Community

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Our local movie theatre reopened recently with a showing of Nomadland. What a wonderful way for the theater and the people who attended to come out of Covid-time.

The movie is a sweet story of a woman whose husband dies and loses her job to a factory closing. Then she loses her community due to the loss of a major employer. She takes to the road with her losses, her pain and her inkling of residual hope.  

Her story is about faith and love. It powerfully reminded me why I need faith to love. And why I need community to sustain faith.

Being on the road did not end her troubles. This 60-something widow faced nearly losing her dilapidated van which was now her home. She spent many nights alone with gripping loneliness. She held on to and cherished her love for her deceased husband and hungered to love deeply again. Yet she couldn’t let go enough to commit to a new love.

So, she wandered in her van. She became part of a community of wanderers. Her fellow nomads shared her losses, her pains, her frustrations and her hopes. Over time her faith in this community grew. And with this faith, came her renewed capacity to love.

I saw myself in this wandering woman. I imagine there is a piece of her in most of us. It is hard to live many years and not be disappointed and hurt by those we thought would love us perfectly. These hurts can pile up and become sores that block love.

I have come to believe that it is folly for me to try to think or will my way out of my wounds and hurts. It doesn’t work. I have way too many hours invested in that approach. I also have many hours invested in the hope that some knowledge would give me the guidance to act confidently and love more generously. That doesn’t seem to work either.

Like my wandering friend in the movie, I needed community to find faith. Others had to tell me it will be ok. They had to let me know they were with me in spirit. They had to encourage me when I felt hopeless and challenge me when some fear or selfishness blinded me from seeing my choices.

The word God was not mentioned in Nomadland. Yet, the community of nomads had a reverence for nature, their surroundings and each other that was a palpable love. For me, that presence of caring we find in community of some form – family, friends, organizations – is kindling for the fire of faith. When I experience the care that comes from community, I am reminded that good is bigger than evil and that love will ultimately conquer fear.

This faith that comes from community gives me the courage to love more. In turn, it leads me to explore my spirit – that realm beyond my knowing that seems to influence what happens more than I know. I decided to find a name for this spirit and get to know it. I sit in silence and wait on it. I make myself available to hear what this spirit is whispering or, sometimes, shouting. I connect my desire to better know my spirit with that of other seekers.  In turn, we form communities.

The faith that grows from spiritual communities strengthens my resolve to be a loving member of all communities. In his recent post, my friend Tim Leadem called this journey our spiritual pilgrimage. Like the nomads, aren’t we are all wanderers seeking community to nourish our faith and free us to love?  What communities nourish your faith and desire to love?


  • Tom Adams writes and speaks on topics vital to the intersection of our personal lives with our community and global lives. He has for decades been engaged in and written about nonprofit leadership and transitions, spirituality and spiritual growth, how we each contribute to a more just and equitable world and recovery from addictions and the Twelve Step recovery movement.


  1. Phil Kurata

    Very true, Tom. I needed to hear this message. Phil Kurata

    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Phil, good to hear from you. Tom

  2. Robin Hawley Gorsline

    I was so delighted to see this film at the Old Greenbelt Theater, and I find this commentary a rich reflection on the truths embedded in the film.

    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Robin, great to share that experience. Best, Tom

  3. Greg Cantori

    I loved Nomadland on many levels. I like to say we are ALL Nomads on different time frames. Currently, my wife Renee and I live and travel on our sailboat and use our Dodge Caravan as our ‘garage’ and camper with a simple mattress and camping gear. We feel the most freedom when we are free of stuff – that’s the deeper level of the movie as we have the privilege to choose to do so while knowing full well there are those who must live in vans and cars. Similarly with bicycling. I was privileged to choose to ride my bike 160,000 miles to work for 30 years while I encountered many who HAD to ride as they had no other choice. Nomads have always scared those who are anchored. They are the ones who have the most freedom so therefore are the most dangerous to a strict society of culture, norms, and laws.

    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Greg for sharing your personal experience letting go. And reminding us of the difference between those of us who do that voluntarily and from privilege and those who do it out of necessity and desperation. Another reader told me the movie made her sad because it reminded her of so many elderly, poor Black women with no place to live. Best, Tom

  4. sally mac

    We who take spirituality seriously are all pilgrims.
    My most recent sense of community since Covid has been returning to my home 12 step group.
    We’re all different, yet the shared Purpose has been the glue..

    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Sally, Tom

  5. Keaton Shenk

    Thank you! The tears that came as I read touched a deep place. What a gift of healing.

    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Keaton, appreciate your sharing your feelings about this.