It is in the air. Sitting at a table this coming Thursday, whether you like it or not, you are part of a community. Riding on the subway. Driving on the Ventura Highway. In line at Joe-to-Go in your rented car. Sitting in an Advent Circle. Floating on the ferry across the Sound. Sitting in an office waiting room. Sitting at the computer in the office of that waiting room.
Our hearts beat in community. There are many solo acts among us, but even they, by virtue of their choices, are a community.
Then there is family, which many of us are thinking about this week. Even stinky Uncle Phil, or adorable Nora, these people who burp loudly or reach under the table with a small sweaty hand to squeeze your clenched fist, they are your community.
These are the people who will be standing up at your memorial service to tell how deeply you loved, because, yes, you stood for loving even the difficult to love.
That is what community is about. Loving each other including our difficulties.
My friends in the School of the Womanly Arts are good at community and getting better. If you look at my friend Joanne’s blog, you will see us in Miami last week, looking so happy. We know each other glowing and we know each other in the moments not pictured here, with gales of tears, snot and despair soaking our socks. We have stood for each other through major life passages and celebrate it all.
My family, my little community here under this roof is a bit like an anemone, reaching out tentacles that suck people in. We each, in our appetite for fun, invite friends for movies or dinners or memorial services and these friends show up.
This salves the challenge of friends who live so far away, for whom showing up is not easy. It comforts you when what you need is a good long cry or a talk over the dirty dishes, getting clean, both of you. We create community.
I believe in community. I thrive in it. I rely on it. I live it.
Six weeks have passed since my Mom died. First, there were the gatherings in Escanaba, where my parents live(d). The Lutheran response to grief is food and for this, I am fortunate. When else would my diet be laced with Scotcheroos for breakfast?
There was the service and the people who traveled across the country to be with us. Miles traveled do not earn any badges of honor, but being there does. Whether it was a custodian from one of my Mom’s schools or my Uncle from Colorado, each came to stand with me, my siblings and stepdad in respect for my Mom. I relied on them to help me remember Mom.
Then, back here in Massachusetts, I was pining away like the dog at the door for people with which to grieve. My knitting circle friend urged me to plant my grieving here in my yard with a service and in my town with a notice in the paper. I could not have come to that clarity without her help. Another in my rich circle of friends, community, comes to my aid.
Standing in our yard a week later, with 30 friends talking about Mom, I felt a bit like I was on top of the Empire State Building…looking out over the vista and realizing it was mine. All this sadness and celebration of Mom is mine. I share it with my sisters and stepbrother and Stepdad, but each of us has her own vista. Whoa. I felt dizzy at the real estate.
Now, as the days pass, peppered through my hours are people I can look at who, though they did not know my Mom, they stood in the yard and planted daffodils in her honor. My friend Roger, who is one of the most extraordinary friends available, even adopted my Mom’s favorite song in to his Jestering. Perhaps you will be fortunate one day to hear his rendition of “I Know A Weenie Man”.
This week, I will be with my community. My sisters each have their own plans. We have not gathered as a family at Thanksgiving for years, so my husband and I have settled in to our community family holiday plan which we all enjoy, wrapped in deep love. We will toast our gains and losses of this past year, we will bake pies, and we will remember with each other how to laugh crying and cry laughing.
May your holidays find you celebrating your community.
Even stinky Uncle Phil.