smiles from the garage. (inspired by my wife’s favorite commercial)

happy new years!

thoughts on community, geared towards recovery residency.

             Community is more than a place we live or a street we dwell on, community is the air we breathe. Community runs much deeper than the rehabilitation center we’ve just checked into, it’s a heart we have for one another. This heart is simple: it is not geared for one’s own wants, but geared toward the betterment of the whole of the people who live there. To live in community, a person should not think to herself about herself, but rather, how will my actions effect this community that I live in. In a small community, you have many resources. Each person has gifts and talents that have been granted to him or her. These talents should not be pointed out, but discovered. Those that dwell in community should take time to get to know one another. This will lead to understanding, which can result in compassion and love. Knowing one another will help in creating the glue that will bond the community together. With the bonds of love and compassion, the community will grow when a new member comes to join. Instead of coldness, the new member will be received with joy and openness, which will result in quickened healing on the new member’s part, and healing on the part of the members already living there. As members grow in their knowledge of one another, strengths will be recognized. Along with this, I believe that a willingness to serve will be recognized, and the strengths that accompany will find their home. Each member will understand more and more of his or her role in the community. As strengths are honed, need will decrease, at least need as we recognize it. When someone has a need, it will be noticed and taken care of. The compassion this member carries will not allow it to go unnoticed, and the need will be met, instinctively. When we realize these gifts, I believe it strengthens our self worth our confidence to become who we were created to be. In community, time should be spent working together, eating together, going places together, and helping one another with the general chores. The goal should not be to lighten the load for yourself, yet if you have a light load, let the compassion in your heart lead you to help the other person to lighten his or her load. In community, time should be spent alone. A walk in the woods, sitting on the porch to yourself, unplugging from all the influence allows one to clear their head and make informative decisions, think about ideas and lessons learned in the day, and plan for the future. Time should be spent learning, reading and researching. Things learned can be useful to the community and help the body as a whole. Time spent working together can relay a sense of companionship and loyalty as a group works toward a goal. To see the finished product means that the group recognizes their accomplishments, the strengths that were added to the project and the way the group organized the worked as a team to accomplish the goal. The results can strengthen one’s self worth and thicken the bond that ties the community together. Relaxing together can also provide down time for the community to enjoy life, to recognize the beauty that is the world. Experience can bond a community tighter. Adversely, co-dependency can ruin a community. Not knowing your own boundaries and having the ability to say no can weaken a member psychologically meaning that secretly inside, the member may experience frustration and resentment, which will ultimately come to a head. Taking time to not do is a great way to maintain the bond of the community. This is a thin line to walk, but we all must walk it. Being honest about our self will make this path easier. We all depend on each other just as the body depends on all the parts to make it work correctly. If you cut off the foot, the body walks with a limp. If one person does not accept the responsibility that goes with living in the community, the whole community is affected. When discord presents itself, honesty will be the champion that brings the group back to order. Effective honesty is not proving ones right or wrong, but looking inside to see how he or she may be negatively impacting this situation. Honesty with one’s self at this point will be the only thing to save the group. There is no room for pride. If a person struggles with envy, not being honest will only drive the wedge deeper in the community. Acknowledging that I struggle with envy will bring to light the problem, and will cause the other community members to act differently, remembering that the best for the community is always top priority. If someone is stealing from the group, for the thief to come forward and admit guilt will create compassion for that person, maybe not up front, but the honesty will create a greater bond in the long run. Forgiveness will be served in greater portion with honesty. Honesty about strengths and weaknesses will go a long way, as well. Remember, there is no room for pride in the community except for pride in the community. If a person struggles with multi tasking with their children, asking for help only strengthens the bonds. Admitting weakness is a huge step in living in community. Community living should not be assumed easy. There is a long time period for people that have never lived in community to adjust to community life. This is why Patience must gird the whole process. Patience will accompany compassion and humility as the group grows in understanding. For all of us, this is a new way of doing life. It’s not just about moving into a place and having our needs met, it’s more about moving into a place, healing and helping meet the needs of others as you grow in your understanding of yourself and the world around you. You have in you the ability to do good, have a good life, and feel good about yourself, but only you can find those things. It’s my personal belief that looking outside of yourself will advance you in your search. This is why living in community is so important.