Tag Archives: Community

Wendell Berry Talks. You Listen.

Chaotic Spring PotPourri


*It’s World Poetry Day Today and UNESCO is honoring Pablo Neruda. Here’s one of my favorite Nerudas:

One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII
~Pablo Neruda

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

*Today is also the forty-seventh anniversary of Dr. King’s march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama for voting rights. And, tonight is the Million Hoodie March, an attempt to demand justice for a young black man shot for nothing more, it appears, than walking home from the store while black. Sometimes the arc bends; sometimes, it appears to still have a long way to go.

*I’m loving A.S. Byatt‘s Ragnarok: The End of the Gods. Here’s one of her descriptions of Loki:

But beyond [His] curiosity was delight. Chaos pleased him. He liked things to get more and more furious, more wild, more ungraspable, he was at home in turbulence. He would provoke turbulence to please himself and tried to understand it in order to make more of it. He was in burning columns of smoke in battlefields. He was in the fury of rivers bursting their banks, or the waterwalls of high tides throwing themselves over flood defences, bringing down ships and houses.

He was reckless and cunning, both.

Indeed.

*The insane temperatures across the U.S. have me wondering about our climate’s own Ragnarok. Everything’s blooming all at once here in the sort of chaos that Loki would love. The birds seem to be engaging in the Great Rite earlier than normal, as well. I hope we don’t get an April freeze, as we sometimes do.

*Rima pens a lovely tribute to a departed friend. In doing so, she describes the kind of community (yes, I’m still sitting for a few minutes every morning with that word) that I think most of us seek:

Since Thomas died, I have got to know strands of him I didn’t know before, as this wonderful community of ours weaves itself around his death and darns the wound with arms. I am astonished and proud of our village on the edge of the moor – I can see that it does well these hard hard things, and I can see that here those whose pain is the sharpest will continue to be cared for well and will be caught again and again when they stumble.

May it be so for you.

Picture found here.

What It Really Means to “Hold” Community


So, since it’s the best/only thing that I could figure out to do, I’ve been sitting every morning for a few minutes at my altar, continuing to hold Greater Paganistan in my heart. It’s interesting to me the many ways in which, once you start to pay attention to something, the Universe begins to shower you with gifts directed towards your attention. (Energy, as we Witches say, follows attention.) The other morning, the Universe sent me this post by the brilliant Joe Gerstandt. (Hat tip to my brilliant friend who turned me on to JG.) Gerstandt’s not, that I know, a Pagan, but it’s as if he were writing directly to today’s Pagans, wrapped up in the recent controversy from Pantheacon:

The word community gets thrown around a lot today. I see and hear lots of conversations about building community, managing community, [One could add: about “Holding Beloved Community.”], etc.

* * *

I think that real community demands a certain amount of mutual commitment, a certain amount of relational courage. If we break it down to the basics, relationships can be built of two things, difference and commonality. Between all humans there exists difference and commonality and in healthy, generative relationships both are shared.

But that is hard to do. It is much easier (at least in the short run) to just focus on one or the other and that is what most groups do. Groups of people have very strong tendencies toward focusing just on their commonality or just on their differences. Both are problematic. (emphasis added.)

When we choose to focus only on commonality, we are subordinating individual identities to group identity. To do this we have to ignore, deny and remove difference. Highly conformist, this approach creates false, cosmetic community. When we prioritize our individual differences, we cannot come together at all. We are subordinating group identities to individual identities and this approach results in silos, segregation, borders, walls and generally some form of violence.

***

There are people that will tell you that group identities (nation, gender, political party, profession) should always take priority over individual identities. There are also plenty of people that will tell you that group identities should always be subordinate to the individual.

As usual, I think that the truth lies in the middle. Whether you are talking about an actual community, an organization, a virtual network or some other social entity, a robust and creative community demands a dynamic balance of both.

It requires that we choose to belong to each other. It does not require us to like each other or agree with each other…it requires us to be committed to both caring for the container of commonality and the individual differences inside. (emphasis added.)

It’s hard work. There is nuance and flexibility involved. It requires prioritizing and investing in relationships. It requires listening and dialogue, maturity and courage. It requires “I” and “we” language, not “them” and “they.”

It takes courage to live in paradox. Real, living community requires us to embrace both the truth that we are all different and the truth that we are all the same. It is paradoxical and it is not simple or easy, that is why it requires courage.
Be good to each other.

I couldn’t have said it better, myself. “Relational courage.” Dear Greater Paganistan: this is my wish for you today.

Picture found here.