I’m so grateful for community.
Last week I took a trip to Mexico with some of my cherished soul sisters and it was like medicine. There’s no drug, no exercise, and no amount of chia pudding that can replace it. People need people. (If you want to see pictures from this beautiful trip I’ve posted some on my Instagram.)
On the first day together we sat in a circle on the beach, holding space for each other’s pain. One by one, each of us got to express the challenges, loss, or heartache we’re struggling with, while being held and witnessed by the rest of the group.
A woman walking by remarked, “Whatever you guys are doing, it’s really different from what everyone else is doing on the beach!” True, it wasn’t your typical beach party, but if you’re gonna go deep, why not do it someplace relaxing and beautiful?
Just to be clear, no one’s purpose was to get the rest of the group to take on their pain. This is an important distinction to point out, because it can be really tempting get your friends to join you in the darkness.
Sometimes we even think this is what defines being a good friend – adopting their pain and commiserating with them about how much it sucks. And sure, there’s a time and place for saying, “Yes, what you’re going through sucks.” But as functions of community go, we can do better.
A healthy alternative is to let your community form a container for you with their presence, in which you can safely feel and release the pain. The part of your ego that relishes drama and conflict might not like this nearly as much – partly because it diminishes the ego’s power and substance – but would you rather have drama or freedom?
At another time in our retreat together, we held each other in a different way. We dreamed for each other. “Here is what I dream for you . . . ” someone would start, and each of us got to hear and receive the others’ dreams of lightness, expansion, peace, gratification, and joy for us.
Even if not every sentiment that was spoken to me felt exactly like what I see for myself, it didn’t matter. It was as if the words were just the carrier for a deeper message: I see you in your power, in your wholeness, in your glory.
In between our various rituals, there was the gentle, freeform kind of community that’s less intentional but every bit as nourishing. Our bodies brushing against each other, our hands serving each other’s food, our fields overlapping and finding harmonious chords.
I didn’t need to be reminded of the value of community, but still I was shown that this value goes deeper than I knew.
Humans have always thrived in community, but community without a spiritual dimension doesn’t feed us as well as it could. It’s like having a friend who’s only comfortable talking about work and TV. You can enjoy each other’s company, but once you recognize that this is only the tippiest tip of the iceberg of relationship, you can’t help but want more.
True, we no longer need each other’s help to fell a wild boar or dig a well. It’s easier than ever to live in isolation, oblivious to the thousands of humans involved in delivering water to our taps, taking away our garbage, processing our sewage, growing our food, creating and delivering the things we order on Amazon. But our souls can’t be fulfilled by the ignorance, contraction, and sterility of such a life.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is a life of reverence for these connections. Here we see that we’re not competing; we’re actually all becoming together.
When I’m not on a trip with my girlfriends, the activity that most powerfully brings me back into this web is Love Rising. It’s a glorious reminder that we are one.
I appreciate you, and I invite you to keep joining me and the rest of our group in the medicine that is community.