Updated: Jul 26, 2022
A week ago, my husband took me to the Urgent Care Center early in the morning. Later that afternoon I had emergency abdominal surgery. Everything happened so fast. No time for preparation, no time to even process that I was going to be completely out of commission for a while. I am grateful to be healing at home now. I’m still walking very slowly and with pain, but I am healing.
During the last week, I have had to rely on my husband and on my community to get even my basic needs met. It’s been difficult, of course, but it has also reminded me of how lucky I am to be held by the web of my community. It’s sometimes hard to imagine how people live without community in their lives, though I know there are many people who do, and of course I lived for many years without it myself.
Humans are meant to live in community. Humans are pack animals. We are tribal. People need other people. In the modern world, most people struggle to be independent, to be self-sufficient. We venerate the idea of taking care of yourself, of not being dependent on anyone or anything. We admire people who don’t need anyone’s help in satisfying their basic needs. We use the word “needy” as an insult. Why have we uplifted the idea of being alone?
Just yesterday, I saw a video of a turtle who had somehow flipped onto her back and was struggling to get right side up. She was struggling alone, flapping and flailing. As the other turtles around her noticed her struggle, one by one, they gathered around her. Once they were surrounding her, all the sudden, all together they flipped her right side up. It was such a beautiful picture of community, and exactly how I have felt this last week. My community has gathered around me (metaphorically) to help me find my way back to being right side up. How could I do it without them?
We cannot expect community to just appear in our lives. It takes work, and the work of weaving community is done through connection and relationship. It is done in big acts as well as small. It is done over time and it is continuous. Here in my village, we spend a lot of time talking, connecting and finding out how each other are doing. We have lots of meetings in which much of the time consists of talking about how we are. We gather for meals, we gather to celebrate, we gather to work, we gather to pray. The glue that binds the web is connection and relationship.
Community is the work that is needed in the world. With the widening of the world, we have lost our relationship with any sort of real community. Relationship and connection is at the core of building a strong web. We cannot be in deep community with everyone. Real relationship is necessary. There are layers of connection and layers of responsibility. Knowing who your community is is the first step. What binds you to each other? How can you support each other? What are the strands in the web made of? My community is very intentional. We are made of people living in our valley who have committed to each other. Not all communities will be so intentional, but it is important to know who is part of your community. Who are you responsible to? What are you responsible for? Who are you committed to?
The only reason I have a web of community to catch me when I fall is because I have been helping to weave that web for many years. The work that you put into weaving your community web can be difficult. It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of energy. Sometimes it doesn’t feel worth it. It definitely is.