The Perfect Imperfection of Community

I am still celebrating that we can be together.

Every time we can.

Like on the bike trails where people showed up with their grandchildren and their knowledge of the trails so that our Sustainability Week Bike Event could be a success.  And in the parking lot the next day when costumed kids did round after round of the small gathering of “trunks” and then went round and round playing “Duck-Duck-Goose.” And on Sundays even though I miss seeing more people and singing and all of that. And the grief group on the screen today and Elder Journey on Wednesday and the committees and the Board who just kept stuff going no matter what. I love it even though this year we have had fumbles and mistakes (btw check out the link to the All Souls Procession on our Youtube which is amazing). The mistakes are part of what makes a human community.

The Bid4Love is one of our community’s big events for the year. And while this year more people than usual are traveling and some are feeling the pinch of this disparate economic time, our amazing volunteer team headed by Peggy Kroll has been working hard. Yet as we got closer, I got to hear other stories—about how people didn’t get the information they needed last year or about how they were feeling guilty about not yet feeling safe to provide what they had offered last year. Or about how they couldn’t attend certain events. Many truths have been shared with me as people explained why they would skip the event this year. Some were concerned about people masking and others concerned about them not. When asked why they didn’t let their needs be known, one common refrain was that they didn’t want to complain.

Which left me…kinda wishing they had. If folks had raised their concerns earlier, perhaps they could have been addressed. Human community, that which we longed for so much in the past few years, is…so human. As such it is imperfect and needs that back and forth of communication to make it better. The perfect imperfection of community means that we need to hold what we do well and what we still need to improve. And the way we do that is through the gentle truth-telling that is the most basic building block of accountability. For those of us who have experienced harsh criticism, naming our truths can be hard. And yet what a gift to say what we need to say and then embrace the messy, imperfect joy of what we can create together—especially during these pandemic times. Though saying what we think doesn’t mean everyone is going to share our need, it is still good to state it.

I hope people will gather with us who can—either on campus or on Zoom. Though the money helps support our core operations, that is not actually the reason. As we emerge from this pandemic, opportunities to gather are few and far between and I hope people will take advantage of the work of our dedicated volunteers and come by to be together. The event will be a chance to see old friends and welcome new ones, feel what is different and what is the same, and relish the glorious messiness of what we can do together.

I am still celebrating that we can be together.

And I hope we will be—in various ways—tomorrow.

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