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ruthless compassion
23 December 2006 @ 05:55 pm
Today was one of my favorite events of the holiday season here in JH. It's one of our neighbor's birthday, and she celebrates by inviting all the long-time valley women to a potluck lunch at her house. Mostly, this is women in their 50s-70s, all the women who knew me growing up, but sometimes their daughters come, too, so though I'm always among the youngest, I'm often not alone in representing the "younger" generation.

My mom and I spent a couple of hours there, catching up with a lot of wonderful people who I only see once a year, at this lunch, which is always a lot of fun. I get to catch up with their news, and that of their kids, many of whom I went to school with, and hear lots of valley gossip and what's happening around.

This makes me hope that I can continue to have a strong sense of community over time, because I love the sense of knowing people over time, and of being connected to a large network of people, even if a lot of the connections are very casual. The primary thing keeping me in Boston, in fact, is the community I already have there. It's hard for me to go to Davis Square without running into someone I know, and I like that a lot, so even though I'm starting to feel like I'd like something new, that's a hard thing to give up, especially because it's obvious to me that such a sense of community is important to my mental health.

On the other hand, I developed the beginnings of a great community in only a few months in Guatemala, so I know it can be done. In fact, that was one of the best lessons from that trip, that I can make friends in a place where I have no contacts or head-start. But it takes work and time.

All of this makes me think, too, about the ways that people facilitate community by hosting events and putting together projects that bring people together. I'm awfully glad there are lots of folks in the Boston area who do that.