The solution to alone-ness is not more solitude, but companionship and community. – Robert Fulghum
Several years ago, I was part of a study group in the Porterbrook Learning Network. While aiming to enrich Christian faith, the books (and group) often discussed the nature of community. This has led me on a quest of sorts to understand where and who my tribe is and how I might truly dig in to it.
I have to be honest: I always figured my community was a local thing. Y’know, the world we learned about from Mr. Rogers: the fireman, the policewoman, the postal worker, the grocery store clerk – these are the people in my neighborhood! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2bbnlZwlGQ)
Later, my disenfranchised self figured I was never going to be part of my community. I was fat, asthmatic, wore an eyepatch and glasses, and had a bowl cut as a kid. I was super weird, obnoxious and disgusting as a teenager. I managed to have one or two friends but never truly belonged anywhere.
In my late teens and early 20’s, I joined the new frontiers available online. I recall “the internet” becoming a thing that suddenly linked all the BBS’s I dialed into each night. And then there was Prodigy and America Online, which eventually gave way to various forums, which eventually gave way to social media. I made some very good friends online, some of whom I am privileged to still know (and see) twenty-plus years later.
But still…where was local community? We lived fairly rural so we didn’t have a neighborhood, per se. I tried desperately to fit in with the homeschooling moms and the church moms. Again, I made some friendships which continue but I couldn’t find my tribe. Where were they?
I later moved to a very small-town (blinking light) area where I never did make much headway into assimilation though I desperately tried. I was always going to be “outsider” to them even after eight years! I did befriend one lady who herself had no community but that was a terrible experience for reasons that would take days to explain. And I found a very sweet friend who became like an aunt or grandmother to my children, and we sobbed when years of hard living finally exacted their toll: her life.
So where exactly was my tribe? Well. That’s an interesting question…
(to be continued)