Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Surviving in Community

Even butterflies gather in community!
Ok, that's cheesy, but I snapped this photo
on a recent hike to Cedar Run Falls
and thought it was cool enough to share!
I have experienced "living in community" in several different contexts:  There was, of course, growing up in a house with my family, then several rounds of summer camp, then a program called Katimavik where I was thrust into a house with eight other students from all over Canada, then college, living with other friends, and now, finally married life.  All of these contexts have taught me valuable lessons through fun times and times of conflict.  There is no doubt that living in community is hard.  This summer, my husband are both continuing to create our own community and living in community with other employees at Shenandoah National Park.  It's going well, and we are settling in to our new home away from home, but I have realized that we are only doing so well because of the help of others around us.

The first night we arrived at Skyland, hungry and tired from an eight hour drive, the bartender brought us dinner and got the manager to give it to us for free since we were new.  Later that night, a maintenance man showed me where to get blankets from the storage closet while the dorm supervisor helped tidy up our room.  The next day, a housekeeper showed us how to buy our employee meal tickets.  The kindness has continued.  We are surviving and thriving, but only because of community.

We hope to create even more community this summer - community not just based on proximity, but on honesty and kindness.  The other night, Ty (my husband) decided to make a fire in the employee pit.  We had been surprised that no one had been hanging out there before, but finally decided to do something about it ourselves.  As he and another employee worked, others gathered around, drawn to the warmth of the flames and human company.  We later found out it was the first fire of the summer.  As I sat and listened to everyone share opinions and stories, I smiled.  It didn't matter whether what was shared, whether it was polite or not, whether everyone in the circle agreed or respected other opinions.  What mattered was that people were sharing, they were opening themselves to one another and letting out what was inside.  It was a sprout from the seed of community breaking through the surface.
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