What does the word "community" mean to you?
Think for a moment or three before you try to answer that for yourself.
Recognizing that too often, those of us in deep emotional and spiritual need confuse "community" with "family" (though we may already experience membership in each), I want to make sure we're talking about "community" first.
We all come from families. That's part of the deal when you're born. How long that family functions as such, poorly or well, is another question; but we all start with a family.
When we move out into the larger world, we can become part of a community. It isn't always the community that's best for us. It isn't always -- or, these days, usually -- the community we remain engaged with in the long term. And in some cases, we may not even be aware of the idea of belonging to a "community" until we're well into adulthood. (That was my case, owing largely to a peripatetic childhood and parents who were artistic, singular people who weren't really equipped to "belong" to community themselves.)
I am on the verge of admitting that a community I've been a member of for over a decade is simply not a good fit for me anymore, and probably hasn't been for a long time.
And so I am really sitting with my feelings right now. I am feeling sad and tired and weary, knowing that The College Try I've spent the last decade-plus making, trying to improve the culture of my community, has resulted in abject failure.
The community's leaders don't want to change the culture.
The community would rather save the world than admit to the classism in its midst.
The community sees me far less as a soul in need of comfort and reassurance, as a human being in need of assistance, and more as a resource to be tapped.
absence is only commented on when you return, and almost immediately
upon your return you're asked what you can DO for the community, rather
than why you were away and/or if you want to talk or need some help.
you are not seen as a human being with a soul, but a source of cheap or
free labor, then synagogue life becomes irrelevant pretty quickly.
your community is so hung up on saving the world's poor because
it's easier and less painful than acknowledging the poor and hurting in their midst, you eventually realize that it's time to find new ways of
nurturing your soul and healing your wounded heart, somewhere else, and
maybe some WAY else.
And that is why I am on the verge of ending my formal relationship with this particular community.
It will leave something of a vacuum, a hole, inside me. And I will need to find a way to fill that hole.
I am working on that, and am not yet ready to talk about it. But trust me when I say that at some point I will find or create something else that feels more honest and healthier and more caring and nurturing than what I am leaving behind.
When I am ready to talk about it, I expect I'll piss some people off.
I do not care.
I only care at this point about dealing with my broken heart and figuring out how I will sit with the hurt and begin to heal it a little.
I recognize tonight that this situation with this particular community is one of the pieces of my life that feeds and has been fed by my depression. So it's time to move on.
May your forays into community be enlightening and nurturing.