A longing for community is natural. We want acceptance, inclusion, trust, respect and attention. We want to be able to count on open minds, open hearts and open arms welcoming us. And, for many, it sounds too ideal to be available. For those who believe it is possible, it is a homecoming. Community is created and it begins within.
A baby is entirely externally oriented and dependent. Maturing requires reversing that trend. The most important question we will answer is Who am I? Finding that response takes time, willingness, solitude and fortitude as we must process our own experience boldly and create our own template. For most, it seems so much easier to wander with the pack and engage with the shame, blame and justify crowd. We know them. We know the game. Playing it gives a false sense of inclusion. Conversation centers around whats wrong with the world and why we cannot achieve our purpose, and, of course, its their fault.
Is there anybody there? At our darkest moments, we wonder if there really is anyone who will, or can, walk through life with us. Is there anyone we can trust? Is there someone who cares? We deserve and require mutually supportive relationships. There is no health in being a lone ranger, taking on the world alone. We need a sidekick or two we can count on. We need a sense of community.
At our brightest moments, too, we need our community to share our victory, our breakthrough, our joy, our success. We want to celebrate and be celebrated. We look forward to the safe challenge to our thinking, the acceptance of our ideas with curiosity to learn and the wisdom of the group. Relationships built on an agreement to be neither invasive nor evasive, but thoughtfully supportive of our own processing is a revolutionary experience. At least, it was for me.
My family ran somewhere between demanding inquisition and cold indifference, and usually on the extremes. My ideas and questions were not safe because family felt threatened. What if they did not have an answer? The only possible antidote to that threat seemed to be to refute or put-down immediately. Being bright but, apparently, a slow learner, I continued to pop up with those questions and ideas which created a battlefield of epic proportions. Certainly, home was not a safe harbor.
School seemed to hold more promise. Conversations, discussions, even debates, were encouraged. Things looked up. Ah, but, even teachers have their limits, and classmates reached theirs long before. My desire to have deeper, trusting, respectful, engaging relationships built on a willingness to tackle the great ideas and issues of life did not fit too well with most folks. It became clear that a few close friends would be the community that mattered. And, so it was. And, so it has continued. We find our people, our community, even if they do not know one another. At the Humana Center, we create community on purpose to have what we call conversations that matter. Learn more at www.HumanaCenter.com
Each of us has a need to feel that we belong–you, me, even the guy who says he doesnt. It is a basic, healthy human need. Saying we belong or appearing to belong are poor substitutes for feeling we belong. Deep inside, many people feel like observers rather than participants in life.
It reminds me of a story told about Leo Busgaglia, the San Francisco psychologist. His followers came to him to engage his empathy regarding a young man who committed suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. The note that young man left said, Im going to walk across the Bridge and if no one smiles at me, Im going to jump. The folks thought Leo would be stricken by the sadness of the situation. He is reported to have simply commented, I wonder how many people he smiled at. What was the young man doing to create community for himself?
Abundance is found in community, not alone. When we spend time in the company of people who share our values, interests and passions we come alive and feel connected. As Parker J. Palmer wrote: we need trustworthy relationships, tenacious communities of support, if we are to sustain the journey toward an undivided life. That journey has solitary passages, to be sure, and yet it is simply too arduous to take without the assistance of others.
As we process our experience, we look for places to make our unique contribution to the world and to use the strategies we prefer. I have found the most valuable tool for learning about our own instinctual software is the Core Values Profile. (www.CoreValuesProfile.com ) Not only does it provide practical insights to assist us in understanding ourselves, it provides valuable insights into every relationshiphome, workplace, school and community. When we know how we are hard-wired, we can live our purpose successfullyand peacefully. Many businesses in which we have used this now experience greater employee loyalty and retention as well as greater effectiveness and productivity. Knowing ourselves well enhances our ability and joy in relationships.
We have the opportunity to purposefully create community that welcomes our soul and hears our voice. It is a practical, engaging, supporting endeavor. The journey toward inner truth is very taxing to be done alone. The path is often too deeply hidden to be traveled without company. Community supports us, gives us the courage to venture into the alien lands and unknown terrain to which our inner teacher may call us. I invite you to engage in creating collaborative community. You are welcome to join us at the Humana Center.
by Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
Founder, Spiritual Living Network & Your Spiritual Home
Co-Founder, Humana Center