Community Matters

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After an afternoon ramble in the sunshine, I checked the mailbox on my walk up to the house. Once inside, I flipped the papers onto the kitchen counter, and a flyer from the local hospital slid out from underneath a pile of junk mail. The words “Community Matters” blinked up at me in brown ink.

I’m a Pennsylvania native living in New Jersey, by way of London and Zurich. I live in the safety of the suburbs, where moms sit on bleachers and chat about their summer plans while our boys run laps across the lacrosse field. Where dads show up to soccer games with their ties hanging slightly loose around their necks. Where kids walk to each other’s house or Ava’s ice cream or Bella’s Burger Shack after school to hang out together. The soaring white steeple of the old community stalwart, the local Presbyterian church, is visible from my front garden. The doors are open to weddings and funerals and piano recitals and communion.

It sounds almost too good and too idyllic to be true, and yet I have sat with sorrow over my fate as a resident of this town. I have felt trapped and angry and petulant as a teenager. I decided some time ago I was fed up with this version of myself. Mothers and fathers across the world dream of this kind of life, while I regularly complained about the soccer-mom sameness of it.

I am forty-one years old, and I am still learning what it means to embrace and belong in community. I’m learning to enjoy the steeple when I wish for the grandeur of a cathedral. To meet the red-breasted robin and the striped-back chipmunk in the local park with the pleasure of familiarity, not with the wish for novelty and surprise. I am learning to anticipate the turn of the seasons and lean into the questions each season brings with it. At forty-one, I continue to learn that it is the people I bump into at the bank and the grocery store and on the bleachers that make up my small circle of influence.

My community matters.

It matters because community helps form our identity and the identity of our children. The way we spend our days, living life, shoulder to shoulder with others, is the way we spend our lives. I have wasted far too many years wishing myself out of this space, only to feel God tap me on the shoulder and whisper “This is where I have planted you. Grow deeper.”

Community matters because we have work to do here. We have children to raise, friends to cheer on, funerals to attend. We have flowers to clip, bank accounts to open, books to borrow and lend. There are streets to walk, neighborhood bbq’s to host, beauty to admire and beauty to offer. I forget this. Beauty is ours to offer–kind words, blooming gardens, shared experience, weekend invitations, the light of Christ.

It’s never too late to bloom where you’re planted. Cliché, yes, but also true. It took me ten years of living in the same New Jersey town to receive my life here, as my friend Marian likes to say. It’s never too late to admit you have something to offer and something to receive right where you’re standing. It’s never too late to call a place home.

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  • KimberlyAmici

    So good!

  • Friend, you just took all my own thoughts and emotions and penned them more beautifully than I ever could. God is doing a lovely, fruitful thing in you. I can see it.

  • This is lovely, Kimberly. I’m about to turn 45 and I’m finally learning this lesson myself. Oh to get back some of those years and choose to grow deeper rather than uproot. I like that…something to offer and to receive, right in this blessed place where our feet are planted. 🙂 Visiting you from hopewriters today. 🙂 Nice to meet you. ((grace upon grace))

    • Brenda, thanks so much for stopping by! Like you, I wish I could get back some of those years, but starting here and now feels good too.

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  • Melissa Hirshburg

    thank you for sharing! I’ve lived in Tulsa, OK my whole life. Many of my friends have moved to more exciting, beautiful places. In fact, this week some friends returned to visit. They talked about how old and run down our town seems. They took their child to our zoo, and they said it was depressing. They went to a museum and said they were disappointed. They live close to mountains and oceans. We live in a landlocked state, which can make anyone’s allergy problems multiply. Still, I know in my heart their is much beauty to be found. I know this is where God has planted me for now. Your post was a timely encouragement for me. Love and hope your way!

    • Hi Melissa, thanks for stopping by. I’m afraid I’ve been that friend:( I love that you know in your heart there is beauty because that’s the most important step in finding it. I’ve lost so much time with my eyes shut to it. Good for you for staying awake and alive to your place!

  • What a wonderful post. It touched on many things that cross my mind. As a transplant in my community I often teeter back and forth between taking root and uprooting. This gave me much to think about. Thanks!

  • Dimitris

    I am a 55 year old Greek male and I thank you for your post, it had a soothing effect on my soul. For two years, I, my family and the small Pentecostal church in the Greek island of Chios were praying for God to open a door for my family to move from Athens to Chios. The main focus of our prayer was God’s will… “Dear Father it is our wish to leave Athens and relocate to Chios, however we ask for your will to become a reality in our lives. If you keep us in our present location we know it is the best for us”. Then, in Oct. 2009 the Lord answered our prayer in the most miraculous way (the details are amazing but will take a lot of space to mention them here) and we came to Chios. I have been unemployed since then. The truth is that God has not stopped providing and my wife still has her job, but all those years I felt totally out of place, like I didn’t belong. I believe that God kept saying the same thing to me too “This is where I have planted you. Grow deeper.” The problem is that most of the times the turmoil in me did not let me hear His whisper. I now know that He lets us go through our personal deserts because He wants to do good in us. He wants us to learn to trust in Him completely. So yes, I do believe it’s never too late to bloom where you’re planted. It’s never too late to call a place home. Thank you

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