Growing up, I was part of a neighborhood … a community. Members of my extended family lived within a three-block radius. We ran into friends and neighbors at local restaurants and shops. On our block, kids of all ages played together and somehow always found a way to get along. We could rely on people around us – people who cared.
Now, except for the occasional runner, dog walker and stroller-pushing mom, streets are deserted. Landscapers manage lawns and gardens; no one chats over clotheslines. In many “neighborhoods,” we’re isolated from each other.
My next-door neighbors recently moved. Three days later, the husband suffered a fatal heart attack. In addition to sympathy for the wife’s loss of her long time spouse, almost as painful is the realization that she’s alone without established relationships. Without community support, isolation will surely impede her healing.
Like my neighbor, we never know the twists and turns that life will bring. For me, this loss so close to home has been a reminder to cultivate resources and relationships beforetimes get tough.
It is widely know that being socially engaged helps with resilience. Lately I’ve been considering … where is my community? Where do I feel at home and connected? Where can I be with people who share my values – who are on a similar path? Where are people happy to see me? Whom can I trust with my joys and sorrows? Who cares?
Humans are pack animals. We need each other! We need genuine human connection. We need to see the furrowed brow, the grin, the watery eyes. We need to feel each other’s arms and hearts.
May every one of us find a place of genuine human connection. Where it’s ok to be ourselves – faults and all. Where we aren’t judged. Where there is no competition or jealousy, only acceptance.
May we be part of a community where love thrives and where we can feel connected to a greater whole beyond our individual identities. And if we cannot find such a community, may we to create it together.