As pollen gathers and disperses, as inlets form and wash away, instances of meaningful community cannot last. Eventually, they will disperse, not because there is something wrong with them, but because all forms are impermanent and run their cycle. Whether they form for a day or three hundred years, they surface from the reservoir of life-force and eventually join other confluences further downstream. However long, short, wide, or deep a true community might be, its impact is timeless. So the goal is not to make moments of true community last forever, but to inhabit them as fully as possible for as long as possible, and to carry their legacy.
We carry a living wisdom about community within us everywhere we go. As Diogenes said in 220 A.D, “I am a citizen of the world.” But somehow, an act of community is needed to understand community. As the philosopher Rudolph Steiner said, “The healthy social life is found when in the mirror of each human soul the whole community finds its reflection.” We rely on each other to incubate this wisdom that lives in each of us. Perhaps the old Scottish saying is true, “Loving thy neighbor is the only way out of the dungeon of our self.”
A Question to Walk With: Bring four or five friends together. In conversation, have each of you describe your personal experience of being ignored by others and your experience of being interdependent with others. In the next three weeks, identify a practice in your community that is ignoring others and how you might make that practice more interdependent.
This excerpt is from my new book, More Together Than Alone: Discovering the Power and Spirit of Community in Our Lives and in the World, which will soon be published by Atria Books.
*photo credit: Nita