community [kuh-myoo-ni-tee]So now that we've gotten the denotation out of the way let's think about the connotation, how this word makes us feel and what we think of when we hear it.
noun, pl. -ties.
1. a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
2. a locality inhabited by such a group.
3. a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually preceded by the): the business community; the community of scholars.
4. a group of associated nations sharing common interests or a common heritage: the community of Western Europe.
5. Eccles. a group of men or women leading a common life according to a rule.
6. Ecol. an assemblage of interacting populations occupying a given area.
7. joint possession, enjoyment, liability, etc.: community of property.
8. similar character; agreement; identity: community of interests.
9. the community,the public; society: the needs of the community.
You thought I was dusting off my soap box didn't you?
Why focus on the negative? The thing about making mistakes is learning from them.
Lessons I've learned along my path:
1. If it doesn't fit, don't force it, this does a huge disservice to everyone involved. Which leads to...
2. Things take time. The Grand Canyon was not formed overnight, the giant redwood's did not reach their awe inspiring size in a matter of weeks, and Rome wasn't built in a day. As "progress" makes so many things in our lives ready at a moment's notice we forget that the reason there are so many cliches about patience is because the best things in life are worth waiting for. My own waiting period taught me:
3. Maturity is important in so many different ways. Spiritual maturity should not be discounted. How can we be sure what we need from community, and what we want to contribute to that community if we don't know what we expect from ourselves? Yes, said group of like minds should help us grow, support us in our learning and help us up from our failures but if don't know to want that how will we know when we've found the right one? I don't think one ever "reaches maturity" though, I have encountered life lessons over and over that are meant to teach me:
4. We are always evolving, always learning. I was reminded just last night that life tends to be a "the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know" kind of experience. The beliefs I held 10+ years ago when I started on my path have changed, some I've cultivated, some I've discarded, some I've learned were out right wrong. This isn't a bad thing, in fact I think it's one of the most beautiful aspects of my chosen faith. Growth is encouraged, and no honest, heartfelt belief is condemned. I've said it before, and I'll say it a thousand times more. Anything you believe that makes you strive to be a better person to yourself and others is a Good Thing.
There are more, so very many more things life has taught me, sometimes more than once. If anyone knows of an herb to cure hard-headedness let know because I tend to have that problem. Learning when to let go always seems to trip me up. At least I've finally realized letting go is acceptable in the first place.
Until next time, give yourself a break, I bet even Gerald Gardner learned a few things the hard way.