Traveling the Path Together
[COMMUNITY: Part 3]
I experienced intentional community for the first time in 1979.
It changed my life.
“Some come to talk, others come to listen,” the leader said. “Most do a bit of both. Engage here in whatever way feels comfortable for you. We’re glad you’re here.”
I took him at his word and did not say a single word the entire night. We came back the following month and it was in the “coming back” that we gained a sense of family. It didn’t matter where we lived, or what jobs we’d held, or where (or if) we went to school, or what other interests we had in life. We found our center in the focus on our needs which became a shortcut to creating a safe space for our conversation.
In the years since that first night when I sat with strangers with a common need, community became my center. Finding it that night helped me to find it every day since. Different needs for different communities with a common outcome: a sense of belonging; a sense of trust; a sense of loving others without judgment and being loved exactly as I am.
Humans need humans.
Our common needs, when shared in safe, non-judgmental spaces, are a lifeline. In the beginning our need is enough.
Alcoholics Anonymous was the first to understand the value of strangers meeting other strangers who share a common interest. In AA, the founders shared a desire to stop drinking. Their collaboration created a model where those who were hopeless to stop drinking gained hope through the stories of others who were on the path of sobriety.
A.A. began in 1935 in Akron, Ohio, as the outcome of a meeting between Bill W., a New York stockbroker, and Dr. Bob S., an Akron surgeon. Both had been hopeless alcoholics . . . When Dr. Bob and Bill finally met, the effect on the doctor was immediate. This time, he found himself face-to-face with a fellow sufferer who was succeeding. AA Big Book
In 1979 we gathered with hope for a healthy marriage.
Dan and I had been given a taste of renewal and wanted more. The strangers we met were young, old and in-between. Poor, middle class and wealthy. Newly married and coupled for decades.
Our common interest was the elusive state of married bliss. In the midst of the normal challenges of life, family, work, and health, we did not want to live in a state of disillusionment. We wanted joy even in the midst of troubles. Gathering with others who came with a variation of the same need helped.
Community made progress possible.
Our desire for a path, and companions with which to travel, brought a newness to our lives.
Sharing authentically and listening respectfully to each other and the group brought experience, strength, and hope through community.
Today, 16,315 days later, I am a widow.
I am now receiving hope from another intentional community: Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation.
How is Soaring Spirits an intentional community?
Who is it for?
What impact does it have on the journey of grief?
More on this next Wednesday . . .