Caring and Community
I was raised in a small town in southern Michigan in the fifties. Wherever I went, there was a sense of caring and community. Most everyone knew who I was because I was part of two families that had been in the community for generations. When I got into trouble my folks knew it before I walked in the house. In some ways it was comforting and in other ways it was not. The comfort was in the caring while the discomfort was in the conditioning. There were clear lines I had to follow and deviation was punished.
What I discovered over the years was that caring and community can be a two edged sword. One can get smothered in an environment that holds on too tightly and one can get lost easily when the caring community is inattentive and/or non existent. When I left that small town for a large Big Ten University I had difficulty finding myself. It took me years to discover who I was and some days, after all these decades, I still wonder if I really know. This has all taken me into the realm of Self care and common unity.
Rollo May said: “Life comes from physical survival; but the good life comes from what we care about.” Once I left my small town caring community I had to discover how to survive and what to care about. I suspect that many of you had to do the same. In learning what to care about we had to both fall back on our former teaching and stay open to new learning. This journey of Self discovery into our inner being can be a long and arduous one. Learning both Self and self care then becomes food for the journey.
Self care is about the infinite non-local Essence many call God. It’s that which is greater than the sum of its’ parts yet is contained in every part. It’s the Great Creating that’s here, there, and everywhere in the Cosmos. Finding access to that which is invisibly embedded in the depths of our literal and metaphorical heart and soul is quite a trek when we don’t know the way. We’re taught to look “out there” to find it when it’s more fully “in here.” Then there’s self care which is also necessary for our finite ego self.
What I’m pointing to is the caring awareness we each innately have within for ourselves and others. Community in it’s fullest sense is the recognition and ability to live into our common unity with all creation. It’s the inner knowing that we’re connected with all of Life and have the response-ability for caring, tending the garden, becoming stewards of Creation. As part of a holographic universe where the Whole is embedded in every part, our participation expands with our awareness.The time is now. The place is here.
Pablo Casals says: “I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance.” Gail Sheehy adds: “We have to move from the unbridled pursuit of self-gain at the expense of others to recovering appreciation for what we gain by caring and sharing with one another.” Wendell Berry concludes with: “The case of the Earth is our most ancient, most worthy, and most pleasing responsibility.” Without this sense of common unity there’s little caring and without the caring there’s little or no community.
So here we are in the midst of a crisis of consciousness which has to do with caring and community while feeling inept and wondering what to do be do be do…….The answer is easy, challenging and difficult. We’re all being called by the higher altitudes of Being to expand our consciousness, our awareness of our part to play in this life and death drama. Our part is to add more caring for the whole and the parts. Our part is to find ourselves in harmony with compassion and caring wherever we are: here, now.
- In a space of Self reflection sit with how this message resonates with your infinite Self and your finite self. If there’s some dissonance, simply notice it and rest more deeply in the resonance. Allow this to direct your new awareness and behavior.
- Sit deeply with the places you find within where you “don’t care.” Inquire into the suffering, pain, sadness, and anger that reside within them. Journal this out over time and if necessary consult with a spiritual guide or psychological counselor to help you unpack this dis-ease. Allow this care and community for your own well-being.
- Over the next weeks give close attention to how you give and receive care. Notice the places where you feel the deep significance of care ebbing and flowing in, around and through you. Also notice how you withhold care from your Sself, others and the environmental community you live in. Play at building a caring community within as it starts here and radiates out. . . Care begets caring. . .
- Awaken to Consciousness – Appreciation – Receptivity – Empathy equalling C A R E