community (n): a unified body of individuals, as: (a) people with
common interests living in a particular area; (b) an interacting
population of various kinds of individuals in a common location;
(c) a body of persons having a common history or common social,
economic, and political interests; (d) common character
The word community is used in a lot of different contexts, more or less approximating one or another of the definitions given above. The past week I’ve been hearing the word on the news a lot, as the reporters talk about which communities are being hit hardest by our unusually cold weather. I think of my church as a community of the second type, one in which many people who may have little in common beyond a desire to attend services meet in a set location for a set purpose at set times.
What I consider true community is a blending of the remaining two meanings, a group of people who share not only an interest in a particular something, but also a commonality of attitude toward that something. For example, I once attended a writing group. Each of us was interested in creative writing, but I soon discovered that I had a very different focus and intent than any of the others. To me, community is a circle in which I can feel comfortable sharing deep thoughts and feelings, without having to explain overmuch, knowing I will be loved and respected no matter what.
Community is so much more than living and working together
It is a bond of the heart that has no physical limitations. Indeed
it is candles burning in different places of the world, all praying
the same silent prayer of friendship and love. ~ Henri Nouwen,
Yes, we are created in and for community, to be there, in love,
for one another. But community cuts both ways: when we reach
the limits of our own capacity to love, community means trusting
that someone else will be available to the person in need.
~ Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak