Thursday, January 7, 2021

In Community


Last week Pastor M.P. “handed out” STAR words as we approached Epiphany. STAR words are evidently a newer Presbyterian tradition. I had heard about this a few years ago, but really didn’t know much about it. Individuals receive a paper star with a word written on it. That word is considered a gift from God for them to contemplate and focus on during the year. This year instead of handing out paper stars we chose numbers that were matched to words and we learned about our STAR word via the internet.

My word for 2021 is Community. I immediately thought about people together, in person. My mind went to a place where we cannot go right now, and I felt a loss of community. But, that was only my initial reaction. I know that community is not dependent on being physically present with others. I know that we can be part of many different types of communities. It became a bit overwhelming when I started to really think about what makes up a community and how people connect to each other in community. I needed to slow myself and my thoughts down. It is only the beginning of 2021 and I have twelve months to explore these questions and the many more I will have along the way. I can start by looking at the communities that were most important to me in 2020. What communities did I stay connected to or did I form new connections to and why?

1.       I’ll start with the community that I’m writing this for…the St. Mark’s Writer’s Life Group. We all share an interest in writing and encouraging one another, and through our writing and conversation we have learned so much about one another.

2.       Dancing Resilience – a virtual Zoom dance group that I’ve been a part of since late April. I’ve danced up to 3 times a day with people from different parts of the U.S. and occasionally around the world. We dance to express our joy, our anger, our despair, our uncertainty, but most importantly, our resiliency.

3.       Workplace – This community has changed in 2020 as I’m sure most people’s workplaces have. We gained and lost staff. We learned how to work remotely and then how to return to work and do so safely. The challenges we faced pulled us together and as cliché as it sounds, made us better and stronger.

4.       Church community – I have been “connected” almost every day to this community. Even though we haven’t been physically together there’s social media, email, virtual services and virtual women’s circle. Yet, it wasn’t until right after Christmas that I realized how important place was to my sense of church community. I missed being in a shared space with others as we prepared for and celebrated the Christmas season. Perhaps that is why my initial reaction to receiving my STAR word was that sense of loss. Taking inventory of how I have connected to my communities during the year has lessened that loss.

We can be part of many communities, some more important than others, but perhaps the most important ones are those where we feel a strong connection with other people in the community.   

Julie Northrip

Photo from Life Through My Lens on Unsplash

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