Tuesday, December 21, 2010

After the solstice full-moon eclipse: Building and sustaining community for work and play


December 21, 2010 

As we turn from last night’s winter solstice with its full moon eclipsing and then refilling, luminous over the southwestern horizon, as the sun fills this morning instead of snow falling, our cycle rotates with increasing light, longer days, and opportunities.  The darkness hasn’t disappeared; life must have always felt precarious to anyone wide-awake.  How, then, do we live into opportunity, not nostalgic and not too innocent?

I have to force myself to shut down Tweetdeck in order to attend sufficiently to my work, which paradoxically means being increasingly tuned into the internet, into a network trying to be community, the local/global perplexity/necessity, and trying to engage constructively the critics of public education.  The key turns on unifying instead of making divisions, on building common ground instead of attacking or dismissing.  That’s hard.

And it pushes me toward notions and places I have dismissed.  A few hours ago over coffee, my wife and I discussed the presence and absence of community.  The conversation brought back memories from a lost age, of rubbing shoulders with family members or strangers brought together in a task too large or sad for a neighbor to bear alone.  It seemed so small at the time, these acts of moving furniture, clearing rubbish, or digging postholes.  In that small-town culture, in those work-parties, I’d have wandered in my mind, “Some day I’ll do something important like write a book or . . .”  Perhaps I lived into the ellipsis; we’ve travelled a long way from the mundane anyway.

Now I wonder if those potlucks and moving parties were somehow stitched together into a non-obvious pattern that gave the grounding to growth, to support an expanding consciousness about the big things in which the cold war, the segregation, the religious and ethnic hostilities could turn less harsh.  An increased vision for social justice, peace and freedom must have depended on the common breaking of bread and sweating together.  What does all that mean today?

I think it means that in this culture we simply need to value the small moments.  We can carve out times to touch shoulders in good work and in unscored softball or horseshoes.  Because the crush of too-busy means these moments will be spaced further apart, we’ll need to stitch ourselves together with social networking.  We can do it.  Building and sustaining community for work and play: the key.