As I See It
On Sunday evening I returned from another community in a faraway-place. I felt for a few hours the disconnectedness in time and space which is "jet tag." an interruption and repacing of my mind and body rhythms as if I had traveled from one time zone to another and hadn't caught up with myself yet. Then without planning to take a nap or even willing it, my body, my senses slipped into sleep where the different rhythms found a common pulse and in the morning I was here again.
The next day I returned, in twenty minutes to the scene of my new community where I was last week and found that the solid evidence the grassy slopes. the trees, the paths. the home-structure of Brookville Hall. the Post Campus. the patio where we gathered. the Community Room, was not our new Communitv. For me it was in myself. and in a very real and present way, I brought it back to Seaford with me.
I have long known and have written it in this column, but I learned again that the few square miles of earth which since 1643 have given Seaford a place to be marked and labeled on a map. which carries memories of its growth from a settlement to a hamlet to an unincorporated village. has rich memories for all of us. But it is not 'OUR COMMUNITY'. Our Community is us, ourselves who have found in this place a common ground on which we can be together.
It becomes a community only when we learn to listen to one another. to accept one another in our special uniqueness. to be awareness that our neighbor, our merchant, our doctor, the teacher in our schools - each of us - have hopes and fears, are lonely, are angry, need to be loved and comforted, respected and cared for even as we, as I. It is a community only when we learn that the kinds of labels we place on each other keep us apart.
In that other community where I was last week, we somehow left
our labels outside and came together for nine days - 80 persons who had never been together before - with the expectation but no assurance that nine days later we would have experienced what a community is, that we would have been a part of the process of forming a community where what was happening to each member was important to us all, of forming smaller groups in which there was more understanding and acceptance, nurturing and a willingness to let one another grow, than is found in many families in a lifetime.
The miracle is that when we could let go of our protective shields because we were trusting others more, and-trusting our-selves more to be ourselves without our labels (efficient organizer, super mom. protective provider, teacher who must know the answers, dutiful housewife, the man who must not be seen crying, the one who is always strong, the pack horse, the winner, the constant loser) each could, like magic, begin to release the person who had been there all the time but was either afraid that those around could not accept the change in her/himself or was unaware of his/her worth and warm richness.
And therein lay the experience of COMMUNITY, the, release of personal and community power, the generation and use of our own energy, and the realization of power which enables a COMMUNITY to accomplish whatever it will.
That is as I see it.