What do you think about when you think of ‘community’? I would imagine that family, friends, or the neighborhood you live in may come to mind. Perhaps it extends further to your favorite coffee shop where you know and chat with the baristas and the local folks who go there at the same time. It could include your educational community, your friends, or an online group of people.
Community can be as small as a few or it can be broad.
I’ve been pondering how we find ourselves in many communities – the interests that lead us there, the types of people that may attend, the causes or activities that we partner with others around. In those ways, I think it can be easy to figure out what communities you want to be surrounded with, but less often do I think we consider how we want to feel in community with others.
When I consider the amount of time I’ve spent in differing groups of people, what keeps me continuing to stay postured in community is a sense of being able to be authentically myself & authentically belonging. Being free to be myself without judgment, without worry that I matter, and that I can bring the fullness of myself and be met with kindness is what I desire to feel when I come to a community.
Perhaps then, community comes with a sense that we can exist with others and have an experience of belonging. They can belong with us and we with them.
Martin Buber says it well when he says, “In this mutual presence – common to each yet reaching out beyond either person—the innermost self of each person arises simultaneously. ‘The between’ occurs when one turns to the other and enters into an undivided relationship (p 78, Kramer).”1 It is in this in-between space that we can find community with others.