At the ripe old age of 42 I’ve learned something about myself. I like to be part of a group. Perhaps I’ve always known it, but the last several years it seems to more and more prevalent in my life.
I had no idea until several years ago that I liked group exercise. Not particularly athletic, I always assumed it was best to exercise away from people. Y’know, so no one can see the extra pudge that hangs over your spandex. But several years ago I decided to try a group class and found I loved it. I love the camaraderie amongst the participants. I don't have to think about what to do, wandering around the gym half-heartedly eying the treadmill. No, the instructor takes care of that. I began the same people there every day. At first there were friendly exchanges between us. Next thing I knew, real friendships developed. Now, they notice if I’m not there and that feels good. Knowing they will be there, that they expect me, keeps me motivated to show up.
Two years ago my husband and I joined a Presbyterian church. Growing up I did not belong to a church so I didn’t know what to expect. But as a parent, when your 6 year old daughter begs you to join, you do it. Still, I imagined a judgmental community. I imagined one should be closer to perfect than I to be worthy. I thought that a dwelling had nothing to do with God. But now, since we have fully committed, both my husband and I understand the power that lies within those walls, and that God indeed shows his face amongst us, through us. When my husband lost his job, they prayed and sent job leads. When my daughter was baptized on her 7th birthday they wept with joy. When I announced Riversong had found a publisher, they clapped and bought copies.
Then there’s my virtual writer’s group I found via twitter. These are other writers, of all genres of fiction, from all around the world. We read one another’s novels and blogs. We send kind notes back and forth. We take it as our personal responsibility to ‘market’ for one another. Which is helpful for selling books but also makes the whole business aspect of writing a whole lot of fun.
Lastly, there is my Apples and Pears group on Facebook. We’re women, (and our one fat banana who is no longer fat and just ran a half-marathon with two other members of our fruity group), who are trying to lose weight, get fit and eat healthy. Between us we’ve lost close to 100 pounds. We’re supportive of each other, cheer our wins (or losses as the case may be), encourage one another to get back on track when we fall, and allow each other to brag without restraint about successes.
Part of the human condition is our isolation. One can never truly know another, even in the most intimate of relationships. But it surely does not keep us from trying, inching ever closer to empathy, to our connectedness in this vast universe. We are not alone. There is comfort in numbers, beauty in the power of community, the sublime where kindness dwells.