Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Building (and Appreciating!) Community

This past weekend, for the first time since my New Year's Resolution to blog every weekend, I didn't do it....hence the mid-week post.  The reason I didn't is that, for once, I was actually part of a community for a few days again. I went up to Virginia to see my daughter, who was visiting a friend in grad school. The friend lives in a house with five other young women, and it was so great to feel like a part of a group again for a change.  I think the thing I like the best is that, when you want to go to a farmer's market, or a movie, or a swimming pool, there is almost always someone there who wants to go with you.

I've been a part of a community many times over the years, like during school, or when working at Goodwill when I was in my twenties, or when creating the resource center in Kennesaw where we worked with homeschoolers for nine years...but I've also experienced a lot of alone-ness...Note this is somewhat different than loneliness...the more you know yourself, and the more connected you are to God, the more alone-ness you can tolerate without giving way to loneliness.  Still, connections are important, and I crave more of them.

When my kids were little, in a lot of ways, they were my community.  I remember, back then, though, that I often craved a little adult companionship to balance it out.  Every once in awhile, I'd experience true fellowship with other homeschoolers, or sometimes other adults that weren't homeschoolers. Once Steve was on a baseball team that travelled a lot, so I got to really know the other moms and dads in a deeper way, but this was the exception, rather than the rule.

I also remember how envious I was once when I met a homeschooling group of moms down in Florida who really had developed the kind of community I was craving. They met every week at somebody's house, and talked and laughed until the wee hours of the morning. Although plenty of groups try to do this, it seems hard to get everybody to commit and stick around long enough to develop deep friendships...For those of you who do already have this, treasure it! 

One of our goals with ARCHERS is to stimulate this kind of community among homeschooling moms.  We don't want to step in and take over if you already have this kind of experience.  However, I am finding that it is difficult to help, because people either already have it and don't need our help, or are completely clueless as to how to start.  I probably get at least one email a week asking if we have an ARCHERS support group in (fill in the blank).  When I respond I always say, "Not that I know of, but we'd be happy to help you start one"...Typically, there is no response.  Starting something sounds like a lot of work, but back in the early days of the movement, when there were no existing groups, we all started by doing things like tacking up notes at the library or seeking out a couple of people at places like LaLeche League meetings, or food coops. Once we had a small core of people, the groups often grew, sometimes to the point that they became too large and had to either split or change character. 

My dream continues to be to create a special retreat/conference center to help people build such communities....In the meantime, I treasure the occasional times when I get to be a part of a group of special women, like I did last week. If any of you are reading this, thanks for the memories!


  1. I loved reading this and glad to know you enjoyed being a part of our community for a brief time. I am blessed and this is a good reminder :) Thank you for coming!

  2. Hi Mary,

    I've been so thankful for my little community for so many years. We've been faithful to one another through birth, death, and everything in between.

    Today folks have so many avenues of support that they don't think they really need one another, but they do. Years ago we were absolutely desperate for one another--and probably would have died emotionally without our friends.

    Interestingly enough, after I speak, the biggest heart cry is that the person/family feels so lonely. I encourage folks to exchange information, but I wonder if they ever get together afterwards.

    Richard Swenson, author of Margin, said, "The more radical you become, the more support you need." This has certainly been the case in our family's life!

    Perhaps folks aren't so radical anymore? Could that be part of it?

    May the Lord bless you and keep you, sister! I wish we lived closer to one another. It would be fun to go thrift shopping with you. :>)

    In Him,