Community. What is it, really? According to Merriam-Webster, community is a “unified body of individuals.” The definition goes on to describe community in more detail. One of the characterizations of community relates to fellowship and states that community is social activity. For me, the better definition is “a group of people with a common characteristic or interest, living together.” Though even that definition does not fully define what I am looking for.
When I think about community I am struck by all of the different places where community exists. There is my community at work. In fact, I work at a community college. Community is in the name! The community I find there is one that has the common goal of educating those who come through our doors; traditional and non-traditional students. Beyond education, we are part of the towns in which we have a campus. This community is just as important to us. We are part of them, and they are part of us. We serve a need, which is education. But we also serve the needs of the residents of those towns through partnerships and volunteer opportunities. For us, community is at the core of our mission.
Another community in my life is my friends from the Avon Walk. What started as a group of friends who attended the same law school has turned into a group of friends, their family and their friends. The Avon Walk is what brought us together. It has turned into friends who are family.
My husband and I belong to the Commander Owners Group (COG). A group similar to a car club or a bike club. We have our Commanders in common, but have found there are many deeper bonds. We have been with the group for 15 years. Over that time folks have left, others have joined. Some people we’ve known for over 10 years. Others we met for the first time last year. Some of the bonds will be for a moment in time. Others are deep and will last a lifetime.
There is also our Church. Church is a place where people of a similar faith gather to worship. Church is a community that supports its members through good times and bad. We each bring our own gifts to the community, and can give when needed or as able.
When I look for community in my life I realize I am truly blessed. There are deep riches to be found in each of these communities. At work, when there is a need we rally together to get the job done. If one of our teammates is out, others step in to help fulfill the needs of the office. We care about the college, we care about our students, and beyond that we care about each other. My Avon Walk team and COG friends are extended family. We love and support each other through the good times and the bad. As much as we laugh we are also there to hold each other through the difficulties. And Church has taught me that God’s love knows no boundaries. I have these communities because of His grace in my life.
These communities are God’s gift to me.