We humans are social creatures. We are not designed to function well in solitude (the odd hermit making an exception usually turn out rather odd, which proves my point).
Here in Christchurch we have rediscovered the importance of community.
|Miss Seven takes water to a classmate|
a few days after Feb 22nd
Our neighbours have become so much more than just people who happen to live in the same street. Within a few minutes of each of the main quakes - even at 4am on 4th September – our neighbours knocked on our door to make sure we were okay. The night of the 22nd February was spend camping on our neighbours lounge floor – just to be together. We've got a bond, a shared connection from having come through life changing experiences together, from supporting and helping each other.
I wrote about the rootedness I've found in Christchurch. I've realised that it's not so much the physical place (although it plays its part) it's the people, the community. I like being able to know and become friends with my neighbours. I like being on first name basis at the dairy, the greengrocers, my favourite cafe. I like being able to stop and say hello and chat with people I know when out and about shopping. It's the connectedness to these people that gives me a sense of belonging.
At least 5,000 families in Christchurch are going to lose their neighbourhoods that have bonded so strongly, as they queued for water tankers or portaloos. These neighbours became the strength and support that have brought these families through disaster. The financial reimbersment for the house and land from the insurance companies and government will never make up for what is really being lost – the community that will be fragmented by the dispersal of these families to other parts of the city, country and world.
In February we grieved in community. Now, we hope and rebuild in community.
One of the key themes from Share an Idea was the need for the new inner city to focus more on people than buildings or things.
Didn't it stir the hearts of all of us when we saw the thousands of students heading out with their shovels an wheelbarrows. Power company technicians working around the clock to rig emergency cables to restore power in our crippled city. The international USAR teams crossing the globe in our hour of need. The whole country decking out in Red and Black, and filling donation buckets. The shared grief and shock and solidarity when we heard about Japan's quake and tsunami.
In the last 11 months since I started blogging I've found a different community again – the online community. I never realised that blogging was so much of a dialogue, how much you could get to konw people you'd never met. I never realised how much you – all of you – would become friends, even from around the world.
It was special to be able to be invited to the Christchurch bloggers get together last week by Miriam, and actually meet in person a community that I'd become a part of.
Community is vital for a thriving and growing faith. When my own faith wavers and prayer becomes difficult, by praying together with others who share my faith builds up my own. It goes beyond attendance at worship services, it's also the sharing of life together. Our congregation also makes the effort to have regular social events, ranging from a lunch once a month, to a more elaborate annual family event. While they're fun, I think they're also important for building those connections, so we become more than just a bunch of people who happen to spend a few hours on a Sunday morning in the same place.
The events of the last 10 months have reminded me of how important these different parts of my community are. I need to keep reminding myself, otherwise as time moves on it would be so easy to forget this, and begin to take them for granted again.