Archive for Thursday, August 28, 2008

It’s difficult being a community

August 28, 2008

The parking lot was barely dotted with cars when I arrived at the church for the annual Mayor's Banquet on the most recent Tiblow Day celebration. I wondered perhaps if I had the wrong place, wrong date. I was just early as usual.

Entering the social hall where the dinner is held, I noted two large banners suspended from the east wall: "This is the day the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it."

I know a woman, now deceased, who carried that biblical passage in her purse; prayed it each day on rising. I thought about her as I watched the hall fill with people - water slowly rising in a deep well. Look around, she might say, rejoice in what you see. Drink from these waters; be refreshed.

There is a singular pleasure in watching this diverse community come together as one, as they did that evening. Just as there is a singular truth in our connectedness in spite of our differences. This is the community of my youth and the three generations that preceded me here. This will be the community of my golden years just as it has been in the days of summer, now evolving slowly into fall, finally into winter.

I know this, in spite of an occasional longing to be elsewhere, where the mountains rise into the breaking sun and trout arch in mountain lakes, leaving glistening, diamond studded circles about them; where the wind whispers through tall, thick pine trees; and wild things roam free.

I know this, in spite of an occasional longing to return to university teaching, where questioning and curiosity is honored, where civility is common practice, where change is inherent in the passing of each year, new ideas are born, random yet welcome.

It is hard work being a community. It is the real world where struggle dominates: economic struggle, social strife, political maneuvering, religious differences. It is our ability to rise to meet those struggles, overcome our differences, prevail where times are hard, and celebrate when success comes that marks us as unique and wonderful.

We are different; yet we are connected. What elevates one person lifts us all; what defeats one of us, diminishes all of us.

I thought about these things as I left the hall that night. One man's small gesture of kindness lingered the following morning when I was sitting on the porch reading the paper. As I left the hall, he handed me a vase of flowers, waved a program with two flags on the back and smiled.

His gesture typified the evening, just as a gesture of a policeman did sitting in the hallway. You are safe, he seemed to say; in this place, we take care of one another. Drink from the well and be refreshed.

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