How Do We Form Community?

by Christine Sine

Well there has been quite a discussion about my zucchini muffin recipe though mainly through email and on facebook.  Joy’s comment about how much more fun it is to cook together has made me think alot about the value of community in mundane everyday tasks like this.  Cooking was once a community affair.  Women gathered at the community oven to bake bread and cook meals.  They walked together to collect water – of course in many parts of the world they still do.  The men hunted together, and the women gathered berries and nuts together.  They worked together out in the fields and of course the highlight of the week was often the village market at which people gathered not only from the village itself to share life and produce but those from other villages often joined in too.

The preparation of food was part of the community life of a village that drew people together in mutually co-operative and supportive ways.  A friend of mine who worked in Africa once told me that when she shared with the women in a village she visited that we all had water piped into our houses their first reactuib was “How lonely when do you talk to each other?”

What have we lost by our modern lifestyles where everything we do is geared to efficiency and convenience rather than to socializing and being community together?  A few things are obviousl.  We have moved from co-operation to competitiveness, from mutual care to selfcenteredness, community to isolation and loneliness.  But I think there are other more subtle things we have lost because of our growing isolation and individualism.  We have lost even simple things like the joy of working together and the wonder of laughter shared over a cooking stove.  We have lost the generosity of sharing when we produce more than we can consume ourselves.  And probably most insidious of all we have lost the security of belonging. So much of Jesus time with his disciples revolved around meals – not just the eating of them but the preparation of them too.  Lessons are learned and valued because they are learned through the interactions of everyday life.  That is part of what we see in the feeding of the 5,000, in the story of Mary and Martha, and in Jesus preparing breakfast on the beach for his friends.

What are you aware of that you have lost because of lack of community or what have you gained because of your involvement in community?

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