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I have been blessed to have experience several wonderful examples of community throughout my life so far. I grew up in a church that was a close, loving “church family.” We cared for each other, prayed for each other and helped out in tangible ways when needed. I did not realize at the time how much work it took to build and maintain such community until a new pastor came and it was quickly destroyed. In college I was a part of small group of students, faculty and students who were the “spiritual core” of our campus community. That group provided a place for me as a student who didn’t fit in other areas of campus life.
Since I have experienced community I feel lost when it does not exist. I have tried to find it and have had hopes that I had found it, only to be disappointed. I’m not sure there are many people left who understand the concept of community or know how to build or live in it.
But one thing I know for sure, is that creating a sense of community where we care for and support each other is something that we desperately need right now. In fact, I believe it is the only thing that can heal the wounds created by the last election here in the U.S. and that continue to be created. As the new regime continues to force harmful policies on our country, people are going to be harmed. People are facing the possibility of losing not only their insurance coverage, but their access to medical care at all. Right now, people are afraid of being forced from the country they have come to love and call home because of their ethnic or religious heritage, even if they are citizens. People are being attacked because they are Muslim, or even “look” Muslim. Jobs are at risk. Families are at risk of being torn apart.
Who is going to help pick up the pieces? I believe there are good, kind-hearted people out there who will respond to these needs, either out of their spiritual practices or because it is just the right, moral and ethical thing to do.
I have been struggling with what to do in the aftermath of the election. Until recently the only thing I really felt “called” to do was pray including joining online prayer and meditation gatherings for specific causes. We attended an Indivisible meeting in our community, but their strategies just don’t feel right for me to implement. Then while driving into the Walmart parking lot I encountered human need first hand — a family including three young children, not from an Islamic nation, but who could have been mistakenly labeled as such holding a sign saying “lost job, please help.” In the part of the country where I live this left me a bit shaken to say the least.
I felt fear for this family, but it also left me with a clear focus on what I am to do. I am to help pick up the pieces of human lives damaged by nationalistic policies as I am able and the need arises. I am open to what that might mean in terms of action, and I am trusting Spirit to guide me. In this specific instance after a brief talk with the mother, I went back to Walmart and bought a gift card wishing I could do more.
It’s wake up time folks! If this country is to survive we have to stop blaming people we see as not the right color, nationality, religion or who have not realized our idea of the American dream in terms of wealth. It is time to start protecting the vulnerable, caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, and mourning with those who mourn.
In short, it’s time to be more Christ-like.
Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the wold. For I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?
The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these you did for me.
Matthew 25:34-40 — New International Version.
“Our culture values independence and isolation far too much, it seems to me–we have a hard time making ourselves part of things, of making ourselves responsible to others, and trusting others to be there for us. Sure, there’s pain involved if we get hurt, but there’s far more pain in isolation. I love community because God gave us other people to live with, not to pull away from, and I learn so much from others that I can’t imagine my life without the learning I’ve gained from getting to know other people.” ― Tom Walsh
“It is possible that the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community—a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living. This may be the most important thing we can do for the survival of the Earth.”
—THICH NHAT HANH [Source: http://www.plumvillage.org]