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!.