Group of four women embracing and smiling

The Value of Community

I’ve been quiet on my blog, I know. Here’s the truth – when I am significantly challenged with something I immediately go inward. I huddle inside my home, sit on my meditation chair, and shut the world out. You see, the end of November/early December was tough for me. While walking in the woods on a cool fall morning, the left side of my body went numb. I let it go for a few days, but when it moved to my face, I panicked. Several terrifying MRI’s later, I discovered I had a pinched nerve. Relief slowly soaked in, but not for long.  Days later, my mom revealed that she had an abnormal mammogram. Worry ensued until I couldn’t bear it any longer. I finally reached out to my friends, asked for support and prayers, and trusted that I could handle the outcome. The moment I did that, I felt a tremendous weight lift off of me.

This experience underscored the power of connection and community. On our own, challenges and problems can feel insurmountable. However, the moment we share the weight of our burdens with others, we allow space for healing. That’s what happened to me. As I sat on my friend’s couch and wept, I began to feel lighter. An hour later, I actually felt good. What a stark difference than the day before! Driving home from my friend’s place, another friend called to say she wanted to meet up the next day. When we met the following day, I revealed to her how I had been feeling. To my surprise, she was going through something similar and had also shut out the world! After we spent time supporting each other, she felt better too!

We are not meant to “do life” alone. Mark Nepo, New York Times bestselling author said, “The aspen grove is a great metaphor for the life of community.
In our time of need, we can find tremendous strength and solace in community. Though each aspen appears as an individual tree above ground, they all share the same root system. In this way, aspens are one of the largest living organisms on Earth. And what happens to one tree happens to all the trees, for underground they are all connected. Their health depends on each other. Thus, on many levels, community is crucial for health and societal well-being.”
Similar to the aspen tree, we were created to be in communion with one another. In our time of need, we can find tremendous strength and solace in community. Therefore, we must resist the urge to create invisible (and visible) walls of separation if we are to live fully. I believe we’d live much richer lives if we allowed ourselves to deepen our connections with others not just in the bad times, but also in the good times. Exchange a smile with a stranger, speak to the store clerk, and strike up a conversation while standing in line. These simple acts will have a profound effect on your mental health and the well-being of everyone you encounter.

And my mom? Well, she’s fine (thank God). Was all of that worry for nothing? Some might say so, but I believe all of this happened so that I could learn the value of community and connecting with others.