Thankful for Community

Humans were created to live in community; we are not lone beings designed for lives of quiet isolation (and desperation!). Despite this biological “hardwiring,” contemporary western culture promotes a sense of independence and self-reliance that defies interdependence.

Think about it. In many communities, people commute long hours to work and spend their commute listening to their iPods, reading, or working. Cars pull out of closed garages in the morning and back in at night. The fine art of front porch sitting has been supplanted by backyard barbeques in solidly fenced confinement. We text, e-mail, and even call one another by phone from one floor to another in ever-increasing residential square-footage.

Much of value is lost without time spent in community. Without experiencing the sharing and relationships that are fostered in community, we even risk a reduction in compassion and empathy. How can we understand our neighbor’s concerns if we don’t even know who lives next door to us–much less half way around the globe.

I am thankful for the sharing and give and take of community. My life is so much richer as a result of my experiences with rural and small town living. Sure, if you walk your dog in the morning in your flannel pajama pants, you’re likely to be the butt of a few chuckles at the local cafe. If you do something stupid like catch your oven on fire by incinerating a plastic bowl filled with leftover popcorn, thus resulting in a visit by the volunteer fire department, then you’ll hear about it for days or even weeks. The same people who may rib you about your foibles will also likely be the ones to show up to help you when you’re in need or let you borrow a cup of sugar or share their excess tomatoes and zucchini.

In community, someone will have a tool you can borrow instead of going out and buying one. If you have gardening questions or need help planting, someone will show up and maybe even share a few plants with you. If you go out of town, someone might be around to check your mail, walk your dog, and keep an eye on things. If you don’t show up for a day or two, someone will care enough to check up on you.

Life in community is more about “we” than “me,” about sharing and caring than counting the cost, and about love of neighbor rather than worship of self and stuff. From planting beautiful flowers to be enjoyed by all who pass by to waving and calling out a friendly hello to passersby, community is a gift to be savored and treasured–and shared.

What do you value about your community?

Photo by lookseebynaomifenton used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!.

4 responses to “Thankful for Community

  1. …”more about ‘we’ than ‘me'” … that goes in the journal for sure! Thanx Sharron. Uh – did the popcorn in the oven thing actually happen? : )

    i also appreciate when community allows diversity to thrive & allows what sets members apart to bring everyone together. Not easy sometimes, but such beautiful community requires lots of underpinning love!

    • Yes, Virginia, unfortunately the popcorn in the oven thing really did happen. We were trying to keep the dog from getting the popcorn, and the oven was the only place that both he and the cat couldn’t get to. There was no window in the oven door. I was distracted by many things (the Martha in me) and turned it on to preheat. The rest is history–thankfully–and nothing other than the oven (and a plastic bowl and and my dignity) was harmed.

      You are absolutely right that community is at its best when the individual gifts, talents (and quirks!) of its members are allowed space–a sort of holy companion planting. Thanks for pointing to that truth!

  2. Reniva R Riessinger

    Its great to have people around me in a Retirement Home. Sharing smiles, a helping hand if needed is wonderful. And if one needs quiet time alone, you can go in your room, close the door and read or just relax and rest, knowing if you don’t show up for the next meal, someone, a neighbor or friend will be checking up on you. That makes for a great community and gives one a measure of peace and calm .

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