As I walked back from the bath house in the darkness of night, noting the stars shining brightly above, I pondered my love of camping. Beyond my desire to be out of doors and to feel rather pioneerish and resourceful, I realized that the people at a given campground form a community during the brief period of time they are together. And what a disparate group they can be; on this occasion a girls’ volleyball team in a bonding experience, a cattle farmer who slipped away for a few days, a recently unemployed man who wanted some pondering time, a family that appears to move every two weeks to a new campground for lodging, several college students, the black cat who wanders about looking for a handout. What a wonderful mix. It keeps me humble. Tent camping in particular seems to level the playing field.
At a campground you speak with folks; share experiences, methods of doing things; tell stories around the campfire. The couple across the street brought us peach cobbler in honor of the wedding anniversary my husband and I were celebrating. A young man two sites down brought us his firewood as he was breaking camp. People gathered to talk about kayaks and canoes, and we all fed the cat. We often leave camp endeared to one another but with no exchange of names or information, believing we may meet up again.
Churches and small groups within churches can provide a sense of community. Members tell stories, eat together, care for one another. In these settings, we know one another’s names. What a gift!
What settings offer you a sense of community? Where do you go to meet with others who know you and your story?
Consider engaging in a small-group study like Companions in Christ, and check out Enuma Okoro’s reflections on community in Reluctant Pilgrim.
Rita Collett, Managing Editor