I have deeply contemplated community for the last several years.  I have been on a quest to find my place— the community where I am accepted, supported, seen for who I am.  And I have struggled on my journey.

Part of the dissonance for me was created by my expectations. I remember as an adolescent being taken to the local Unitarian Church my mother had joined.  Knowing a bit about the tenets of this faith community, I expected every person I met there to be loving and open and warm and understanding.  That is what I was longing for– a mythical place.  You can imagine the disappointment I felt to find that is not exactly what I would be greeted with early on a Sunday morning.

I found myself making the same error again and again in my search for community.  I thought: This is it! This is where I belong.  I have many things in common with these folks.  They get me...  And I painfully came to realize that the ways in which we group people– political leanings, age, taste in music, education, choices in sources of food, ethnicity, religion, gender, parents/non-parents– does not guarantee this sense of community I was seeking.

Next I made valiant efforts to create my own community– a babysitting coop, a book group, a mommy support group.  None of these happened to work out.  I was pretty bummed.  I was trying so hard and could not get that it I wanted so badly.

Still, I accepted invitations to be in community with others.  I participated, even when I didn’t want to.  I signed my kids up for classes at the local Y Family Center, I dragged myself to workout just so I could take a shower uninterrupted by a toddler, I went to my regular volunteer shift even though some folks irked my nerves.

And guess what. Community found me.  Two things happened:  I began to give up the notion that the perfect community existed and I looked around me and noticed all the places where I was truly accepted, supported, and seen.

And, you guessed it, the community did not look like what I had initially imagined or anticipated.  I connected with older folks, younger folks, orthodox folks, liberal folks, bold folks, timid folks, folks with kids and single folks.  And I am oh so grateful to have the chance to find my place in any place.

Reverb prompt: Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?  (Author: Cali Harris)

One thought on “Community.

  1. This is so true. I’m finding it’s even more true in the time I’ve had to re-create all my community-ties. (I tried to organize a babysitting coop as well, but it fizzled when I stopped hosting all the “get-to-know-you” playdates.) The longest chats end up being with people I would never consider “friend” material on paper.

    As for the reverb prompt, I’ve been fantasizing about joining a book group, but I don’t want to take the step for fear of being severely disappointed in the result. I’ll take the leap eventually, but first I have to find more time to just read!

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