Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Finding Community

Water is a strong unifying force in a woodland, something that ties the community of life together. Everything that resides in this wild space needs water to survive. The animals that make their homes there, the towering trees, or the herbaceous plants which will soon spring from the ground. This ribbon of life then creates the fabric for which all in the forest partake.

In much the same way water weaves a life sustaining fabric in a woodlot, we humans, through our relationships with one another, weave a cloth that sustains and nourishes us and makes us feel not only part of the system, but also loved. This woven sense of belonging in our communities becomes essentially the common thread we all need to survive and thrive.

Just as animals in the forest search out water for which to drink, we humans search out communities in order to nourish our souls. Church groups, clubs formed around common interests, support groups, internet social media- they all play a part in helping to connect us to one another. Some of these groups provide all of the sustenance we need, others less so.

Over the years I have participated in many communities, yet have only found a few that really make me feel that all important sense of belonging. A connectedness that almost makes one feel they want to cry when surrounded by it. To see the beauty of many people coming together, caring for one another, drawing close, tightening the weave.

Having recently found a community that brings me great joy, I have wondered what sets this community apart? What ingredients does it have that others have not had? In my search for an answer, I stumbled across this quote by Wendell Berry which I think answers my question quite well:

"A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other's lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves."

~Wendell Berry

As I sat in the barn last Saturday night at the educational center where my son spends his week, I felt a deep sense of community and belonging. Though just a newcomer there myself, most in the room had been together since their children were born. With the music playing and many dancing, others gathered at tables playing games or talking, shared food from the potluck filling us, I felt I had found home. Both lucky and grateful to have found this special place. Bounded by a desire to educate young people in freedom and a desire to trust and care for one another along the way, I saw this place for what it was- a deeply committed community. A place where the fabric of the community would be best described as loosely woven. Strong and supportive as needed, yet flexible enough to allow for each to be their own individual.

This fabric, cast from many threads, creates one beautiful garment which sustains all in much the same way a forest is sustained by the water that runs through it. We as a community through this coming together, find ourselves drinking from the same stream so to speak, day after day as well.

1 comment:

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

This is a fantastic "metaphor to reality" post about community. You have a gift for putting words into meaningful thoughts. -- barbara