We attended the wedding of our good friends’ daughter last weekend. As weddings go I am not much for critiquing what goes on. In fact my wife would probably prefer I keep my mouth shut during the formal ceremony. Then again, probably during the informal part as well. Can you imagine? Don’t answer that. Right after the ceremony a friend sitting in front of me turned and suggested that the message (read sermon) was more important for some of us that had been married for a while than the couple that was actually getting married. Perhaps I should have listened. I was much to mesmerized by the architecture of the building. Besides, I know all there is to being married, right? Again, don’t answer that.
I want to refer to the speech given by the bride’s father. Not that he said a lot, too emotional, but the first sentence I heard said it all. He said it takes a community to raise a child and as he said it he pointed to the crowd. That comment really hit home. I talked to my daughter about that the following day. I suggested that the community we grow up in helps shape us as people. As a parent I can do only so much. The community, the school, the church, the groups we hang out with, dictate who we become.
I have often said, and I quote, “Relationships provide us with identity, purpose and direction. In essence, relationships and therefore community is a life giving, life defining, life nurturing process.” Notice the reference to community? Community becomes much more important than we could ever realize.
Sometime ago I wrote about the untimely passing or our niece. In my final comments about that I suggested that it will take a community to rally around that family. I also said that I needed to be part of that community. In the two services we attended I saw community like never before. The people that showed up to show their respects, to show their support was literally out of this world. My wife and I talked about that as we ventured home that day. We wondered whether we would ever find that community support should we face a traumatic and life changing event. Yes, we have tons of friends, colleagues, associates, and family. But do we have the community that I witnessed that day? Do I have the community that my friend referred too at his daughter’s wedding?
I suppose that the best way to find answers to my question is to have something really traumatic happen in my life. Not sure I want that litmus test. I see it around me every day. People experience tough situations. Life changing experiences. Where am I when that happens? Am I part of the community that helps out? Do I provide the support that is so desperately needed? Or am I too wrapped up in my own issues?
It really is not a major deal. It takes little effort. There is a community out there. The question becomes what am I doing to be part of that. I can do more and I need to do more. Quite frankly, without community we have nothing. And the more we become consumed with our own issues, with our own problems, the more we have a tendency to withdraw. The more we withdraw the less we see of the life giving, life defining and life nurturing community. The community that exists because someone cared. Help me be one who cares. Make life changes before life changes. Make it a good one.