Community is typically thought of as a group of people living in the same locality or regularly gathering together such as in a work, social or on-line community. But, for many of us, just being in the same neighborhood, home or in cyberspace is not satisfying. My hunger for community is not met just by being together.
The heart of a community is meaningful connections. That’s what feeds my intellect, emotions, physical body, spirituality and creativity and nourishes my soul. Heart talk involves being emotionally touched with important personal learning, and feeling seen, heard and appreciated. With an intention to make heart connections an important and integral part of the community, any activity is an opportunity to be meaningfully together.
For example, at mealtimes, talking about impersonal things is secondary to learning about those at the table on a deeper level. Discussions about how we are feeling about our lives and our real concerns hold sway over criticism, arguments, and dispassionate chronologies about the day’s events.
Typical chatter about sports, weather, politics, food, wine, gossip, and stories about past events do not meet the above criteria. Spending time in small talk is not wrong or bad and I’m really good at it. But, it does not energize and satisfy me like meaningful (meaning full), discussions from the heart.
Conversations that are honest and personal connect me to my appreciation for others and myself. They may be intellectual discussions that lead to new discoveries, intimate personal sharing, or learning about what blocks us from more connecting conversations. They are often conversations where we lose track of time and feel exhilarated no matter what time they end.
The heart of a community, the meaningful connections that come from personal learning and being of service, provides a compelling reason to be together. Members are energetically engaged in furthering the well being of others. They emotionally support each other in connecting to their hearts. They generously give of their time and money when needed. People develop their networking abilities so that they help each other connect to resources that help further their careers and personal development.
I love being around people who freely give, and are open to receiving information and support. Meaningful connections are what I work toward in all my communities. Some communities are more open to this idea than others. Valuing this idea is a foremost criterion in determining with whom I choose to be intimate, where and with whom I work, where I live, where and with whom I choose to spend time.
Meaningful connections are intimate. There are lots of fears and misconceptions about intimacy that will be addressed in the future blog “Intimacy: Beyond Sex.” For now, I’d like to hear your experiences and questions about community.
What do you hunger for from the various communities in your life? What have you done that has successfully created communities that better serve you? What resources have been helpful in changing your ideas about community?