Sometimes words get in the way. It happens when we want to describe something meaningful to us. Big and long words that make up big and long sentences make sense to us as we think of capturing exactly what we want to say about something important; and still, what we write or say ends up not making sense to most of everyone else.
I recently read a definition of what it means to be a community. It went on and on and as I read it I thought of an attorney’s office. Walls lined up with books that looks like encyclopedia sets. Phones ringing in the background. Suits and ties. Shiny shoes. People seen quickly walking back and forth through venetian blinds. And long, long words crammed into longer sentences.
I say, rubbish to all of that! I like short sentences and even shorter words. I especially like them when we describe meaningful things like what it means to be a community, and as we began to tiptoe into a post-pandemic world, I think of what I miss most about what makes us communities.
To me, community is hearing people laughing as they sit in outdoor restaurant patios. I don’t know exactly what they are saying but I hear and see people together, sharing and enjoying.
Community is saying hi to that older woman who walks her dog at the same time every morning.
I like the word community because it can be used to describe a lot of things. Like when we go to watch the high school basketball team play on Saturday afternoons even when we don’t personally know anyone on the team.
It can be used when talking about the food trucks lined up around the town park. Sometimes they look a little beat up but the food is always good and you are happy to wait your turn no matter the weather.
Sometimes I use the word when I think of the laundromat I visit each Sunday morning. The same group of guys seems to show up each time I’m there. One fella always reads a paperback novel. The cover makes the book subjects feel like mystery or science fiction themed. He reads a different one each Sunday.
Community is a word that always comes up when I’m talking to 18-year-olds who are getting ready to graduate. They are thinking of their future and as they express their hopes and desires, what they almost always mention is what it means to them to either leave or stay in their hometowns. It’s the most special place in the world.
More than just a word, community is often an expression or an action. A helping hand from a volunteer. Friendly smiles and hugs from church members. A police officer coming to the rescue. Neighbors checking in on you.
When I write something, community is almost always something that pops up in my head because community is part of all of us. It’s people, places, buildings, borders, yesterdays and tomorrows.
I like the word community and I like to think about it. When I share about community, I like to express my feelings on it in simple ways with short sentences and small words.
Community is writers and readers. It’s all of us.