The holidays are always a quiet time here.  Our staff uses the down time to get away from work for a bit and spend time with their families. Jackie K. has been out since mid-December for foot surgery. We have had very few guests, just three private retreatants and those who came for our New Year’s Eve retreat.

On Tuesday, the house was a little busier than it’s been for the past month. Jackie K. was here as she works her way back by making short visits occasionally. Since she cannot drive yet, her chauffeur for the day was her dad, Jack. They also brought along her son, Danny, who has not been here since mid-December as well. Danny told Jackie K. last week that he missed us, and he seemed to be glad to be back volunteering. Book Club was here for the morning and met on the main floor instead of in the Solanus Center so Jackie K. could join us. Joanne and Terri were here early enough to join us for Morning Prayer, and Terri stayed after Book Club to join us for lunch.

The lunch bunch was treated to a baked chicken dinner with all the fixings. For the record, we do not normally eat that well at a staff lunch, but Kim went above and beyond to make our company feel welcome. The celebratory feeling of the special meal led to a rather exuberant discussion around the tables. Nothing earth-shattering or especially profound, just friendly conversation and laughter shared among friends. Jackie K. said later, “It was nice to be ‘home’ today.”

That’s the best part of community, feeling “at home” with those around you. Whether it is gathering with the ladies in the Book Club or the gathering of staff, residents, volunteers and guests to break bread, it is good to have the experience of community where anyone can feel safe and comfortable sharing stories or struggles, information or insights, lessons or laughter.

We all have our “communities”, whether that is family, friends, those we know at work, church or school, or our social circles like book clubs or bowling leagues. Our level of comfort is likely very different in each of the communities to which we belong, but hopefully we all have at least one community where we feel safe and comfortable no matter what, because none of us can stand alone. After all, we are created in the image of God who is community – Father, Son and Spirit. We need each other.

We are also shaped by our relationships with others, whether those relationships are good or bad, healthy or unhealthy.  It is easy to appreciate the good and healthy relationships, those moments that bring joy, laughter and good conversation.  But we can also benefit from relationships that are not ideal if we can heal, learn and grow from the less-than-desirable aspects of community.

For the many blessings of community – the support, sharing, caring, laughter, insights, growth and much more – and the ways those relationships shape us into who we are as children of God and images of Love, we say Deo Gratias!

P.S.  Full disclosure: the photo is from Wednesday’s lunch because this Chronicler was not thinking fast enough on Tuesday. 🙂