And all those moments, they add up in our lives. They make us richer than we could ever hope to be.
Often, as I sit down to write my post for Our Voices, I find myself hesitating. What do I write about? There is so much that could be written. As I began this post yesterday, I wanted to write about community, and how much we can give to our community.
All around us, there are people who are a part of our lives if we choose to involve them. They are the people we squeeze past in the grocery store aisles. They are the people who stop for us as we cross the street. They are the people sandwiching us as we wait for the americano we treat ourselves to each morning. They are the people who are serving us that americano, with smiles and conversation, as we know one another’s names and stories, as we say hello to one another on the street. They are the people we buy a Real Change newspaper from, because they are kind and friendly, smiling in spite of the people who walk past without a glance. They are the people we wish we could do more to help.
They are the people we work with each day. The people we serve. The people who give our lives meaning through the context of our interactions. This is community.
They are the people who are looking out for us, even if they do not know us… The people who choose to greet us warmly, who we know instinctively are our friends. The people who have come into our lives by chance or design, and seem to deliver exactly what we need before we even realize what that is. And so often what they deliver is friendship, they deliver love.
By love, I don’t mean the romantic notion of love. I don’t mean something that is heart-rending or painful or threatening to any of the other important relationships in our lives. But by love, I mean something greater – a kindness, a caring. Love that enriches our lives and enlarges our hearts. Love that gives us so much more than anything material or tangible.
Love that is a recognition that we, all of us, have something in common. Several things, in fact. And it is these commonalities that are more important than all the differences we can cite. We are alive. We breathe. Our hearts beat without our conscious attention. We will all one day die. We eat when we are hungry, and we drink when we are thirsty. We need rest when we are feeling weary, and warmth when the weather seems like its own sentient being, determined to inject its chill into the very marrow of our bones. We all need love. We all have love to give.
How truly blessed I feel to have the community that I do. Every day I wake up knowing that I will get some affirmation of that blessing. And every night, when I am succumbing to the rest that I need to function, there are times when the blessings seem too numerous to count. From the remarkable to the mundane, how can I not feel lucky?
Not too long ago, over lunch with a friend, I was told, “What do you have to write about? You’ve probably never faced any challenges, and you’re unlikely to suffer going forward.” I objected, for the root of all my blessings comes from knowing that I have survived experiences that could so easily have destroyed me. The worst times of my life have been eclipsed by awakening to the people and the world around me. I have survived. The only person who has the power to make or break my spirit is me. And which do you think I am going to choose to do?
It’s not always easy to see the blessings. Especially in the midst of our darkest days, but those blessings are still there. They may be waiting to make themselves known until we get through our challenges, so that we can look back and feel gratitude. “That is why that happened,” we may say, days, weeks, years later. With perspective, we may transform our awareness of blessings so that we may better recognize them in the moment. And those momentary blessings are not obvious. Sometimes they are small, almost minute. If you don’t know to look for those blessings – those warm smiles on cold days, those moments when for a heartbeat the world feels like it’ll be alright – they may slip right past.
And all those moments, they add up in our lives. They make us richer than we could ever hope to be. We have a choice about what we give to the world, and we have a choice about how we receive its gifts. As I ponder my community, and what I can give to it in this season of giving, it’s easy. Giving in the ways that I can, through actions born out of love, results in the biggest blessing of all… the sense that I have so many around me, so many people who are making a positive difference in my life, that I feel at times like my heart could be a prism… transforming all the love that comes in like sunshine, and giving back rainbows of love, dancing across the walls. Thank you.
Sasha may be the shyest social person you’ll ever meet. She joined Verity in 2009, with a couple years in the Credit Union Movement already tucked under her belt (amidst coffee-making and bagel-slinging, running a non-profit, and trying her hand at farming).
An eternal optimist (except, you know, when she’s not), she enjoys exploring her surroundings and having adventures with friends; yoga, running, reading, writing, and good food. Though not a remarkable cook, she is nonetheless a sincere one and admits she’d be better if there were three more hours in every day. When not doing one of the many activities mentioned in the previous two sentences, she counts herself lucky to be peacefully at home, cuddling with her partner and their cat.