A sense of community

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By Norma Kirkpatrick

I love to write, and I love words.  I wait for the inspiration of a topic to fall over me.  Sometimes it is an experience, a place, a person, a memory, a song or a poem.  Sometimes it is just a word; as it is today.
I like to take that word and hold it up to the enlightenment of thought.  It becomes a rough jewel catching brilliant light; waiting to be cut into facets that give it shape and form; making it even more valuable.
My word choice today is “community.” The word inspired me as I thought of my communities. They are the community where I live, both city and neighborhood; my faith community where I worship, learn and serve with everlasting friends; my special groups communities put together by shared interests and pursuits.  The first syllable is the same as the first syllable in the word “common”, and a community is a group of people with something in common.
In the early 1600’s, English Poet John Donne wrote a poem with a couple of lines that have endured through the centuries: “No man is an island, entire of itself.  Every man is a piece of the continent; a part of the main.”  The same is true for every woman.
I have heard those words used in speeches, sermons and included in songs.  The aspect of powerful words has always intrigued me; the way some saying or phrase continues to inspire the heart of mankind in such a timeless way.
The words are especially useful to me as I write today about community.  We can’t be a community by ourselves; that only happens when we join with other people and become a unit.
Most of us have heard the teaching that it is easy to break one stick, but when tied together into a tight round bundle of sticks, the stick becomes strong and unbreakable. That is an illustration of the strength found in togetherness.
Community is also powerful enough to feel.  I know when I am in a place, or a group, that has a “sense of community.”
I have heard that phrase throughout my  life, but had to mature to understand it.  It means to be aware of other people; a sense of being, when we are together.
No one should settle with becoming that isolated island.  Find a group that needs you; and a group you need.  Make the first move.  Don’t wait until they look for you.
It is there you will find your community, and a sense of being; people with something in common, living meaningful lives and growing strong together.
Kirkpatrick is a guest columnist for the Opelika Observer. She is a wordsmith who has contributed to teaching materials, magazines and newspapers. She also collaborates with authors on literary projects and writes an occasional poem.  She can be reached at normakirkpatrick@gmail.com.

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