I have been marveling at the healing power of community over the last few weeks.

Something happened during the pandemic. Of the many realizations people had, we saw that at some point in our lives our work became the main source of community for so many of us. When many of us moved to working from home it became apparent. We had no other community. For me this persisted for years – moving to a small town, meeting new people little by little but mostly struggling to find ways to connect with people regularly. Until recently when I started a community stitch night and finally found some wonderful studio mates. That and watercolor class, a Unitarian Universalist church service and another art class for grief has me finally feeling like I have community here – and maybe that I REALLY have community for the first time in many many years.

And the contrast between the peace I feel when I am a part of a community and the fear I feel when I am digesting one utterly destabilizing and fear-inducing world event after another is so stark. I am coming to believe that community – the coming together of people is vital to our survival like food or water. It is not extracurricular, it is not a “nice to have”, it is absolutely essential. This fact has felt so intensely true these past few weeks where I am finding so much peace in my different community groups. I feel to my core that I/we are capable of anything with community support.

And I have been reflecting on a lot of lonely paths that I’ve traveled – fully integrating the independent mindset – “I can do it all on my own.” Where in the heck did that come from anyways? Sometimes it is hard not to think that our wellbeing is not being intentionally sabotaged with addictive phones, addictive food, and a whole bunch of thoughts that seem designed to keep us isolated.

I was telling a friend about what an impact community has had on my life lately – that really nothing has changed but the ability to see yourself in other people, know that that feeling of not getting enough done in your workshop, or stressing about money, or feeling lonely, or feeling like the world is crushing the good people – other people think that too – and therefore it is OK. It is OK because it is normal. So nothing has changed except for being in community with people.

And this feeling has been so striking as the world seems to proceed further and further into darkness and uncertainty. Peace is possible when we come together with other people.

And I can’t help but wonder if the destruction of our places of community is from neglect or intention. It is a strange thing to wonder about the intentionality of keeping people isolated, running around celebrating individuals, turning inward, zoned into their phones. It is hard not to wonder about the intentionality there. We can’t see our common interests and fight for them if we all believe that we are utterly alone. And maybe we will never know but we can choose to turn towards our communities and open ourselves to meeting and talking with people we’ve never spoken with before. Peace is there in community. It is the right direction even if we can’t see any further past that step.

So take your small step to create more community where you live and then step into it, hold space for it. Healing through community begins right where we are.

Go, fight, win.