Remember “About a Boy”? I’m recalling the film of the book by Nick Hornby. Marcus, a 12-year-old somewhat odd son of an unstable single mother recognises they need friends or ‘back up’ when things get tough. They do as his mother is so unhappy she tries to die. However, a small unlikely community grows around them, including a confirmed bachelor Will, terrified of growing up. When the bad times happen friendship sees everyone through.
Why is community important?
1. We need each other: nurturing human connection is essential for our well-being. We need to be touched, to be hugged a certain number of times daily. I’m not talking about sex, but about human beings appreciating and loving each other.
2. Be a friend: Let’s not wait for people to befriend us, why not foster friendship ourselves. We don’t have to do anything grand. One of my friends rarely had someone round for a meal because entertaining was so stressful for her. She believed she must clean the house completely; provide outstanding food; be the perfect host. She had a difficult full-time job, so she was exhausted before she began.
3. Eat together: we all need to eat, why not organise mealtimes to eat with others? We have had people living with us for years and we tried to eat together. The quality of food depended on when I shopped but there was food of some description! People didn’t care. They loved being invited.
4. Know your neighbours: we need each other. Do you have elderly neighbours? Can you check on them, perhaps pop in with a pack of biscuits to share a cup of tea? Elderly people are among the loneliest in our society. When I walk my streets I remember those who live around me. I feel I belong. Are we too busy to stop and have a chat? Send an invitation to neighbours for a Christmas drink it might surprise you who you meet.
5. Volunteer: doing something positive, serving your community is a great privilege. It brings a sense of belonging, of ownership and has certainly helped me to understand and care about the people I live amongst. On occasion we band together. I lend my voice as we stand against what we view as destructive initiatives in our neighbourhood.
6. Life is more than me: let’s allow ourselves to be part of something greater than ourselves. If my life was only about myself, it would be paltry indeed.
7. Living without fear: being part of, and living within a community brings a sense of safety and security. I know my streets, I love my streets, I love the people who live here and I pray for us regularly.