Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On Community

Community per Wikipedia "In human communities, intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs, risks, and a number of other conditions may be present and common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness."

In the last two weeks I have been reminded so many times about the incredible importance of community and the extensive way we might all define it for ourselves.

Almost immediately after dropping my oldest daughter at sleep away camp for the first time, Facebook alerted me to a CPLV alum camp friend who had just suffered a tragedy so enormous I was immediately moved to reach out to other camp friends. Within hours one friend had set up a group email to keep everyone else informed and within days we had decided how we could, as a community, do something meaningful. So many of these people I have not seen or spoken to in person in years and years. Yet, it was without hesitation that we acted together. So strong a bond formed long ago at camp. No one even questioned coming together.

Several days ago the Jewish community suffered an unimaginable event when three children at Camp GUCI were randomly struck by lightening while they played in a field. I only know of this story peripherally and yet my Facebook feed has been flooded with information, requests for prayer and invitations to support these families from friends whose children have attended, my own synagogue, the Columbus Jewish Federation etc. Again, a community.

As the July 4th weekend approaches in Bexley, OH, I am struck again about the power of such communities. Growing up on Long Island I had no idea that this would come to be my absolute favorite holiday. Between the community parade, block parties, fireworks and the amount of people who return home every year for this weekend, it is without fail the best weekend of the summer. This summer is marked by the 20th reunion of graduation from high school. My husband will celebrate his with a float in the parade, a family picnic and adult only party that will likely be as much fun as the entire weekend itself.

I marked mine earlier in June with a great party in NYC. I no longer live in NY and my access to friends from high school out side of Facebook is limited. None of that mattered as folks started to trickle through the door of the bar where we held our reunion. In some ways it was as if no time had passed. The most marked difference was how truly happy everyone was to see everyone else. How little pretense was left, even in a class so full of cliques 20 years ago. It was as if, as a community, we had all grown up enough to appreciate who we had been and who we are today. Twenty years ago we were all so eager to find out what the next chapter was. Twenty years later so many of us realized that the book was incomplete without the early chapters. They formed who we became.

I feel blessed to be a part of so many "communities" large and small. I only hope that I contribute with my own small hand print to each one. 

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