When I hear the word community, the first thing that pops in my mind is my neighborhood. Perhaps it’s because I can identify what I know better than I can to assume other labels. Community is not just about an area, though. It can mean several different things. For example, the school community is where students congregate in other buildings based on their ages and skills to study. The church community is based on the congregational church’s people and share in their love of worship. A community of friends often has a “Cheers” vibe where each of the folks involved knows each other and enjoys spending time together. No matter your feelings, you are grouped by the company you interact with as various communities.  

There are always ways to help your community out. You might volunteer your time to help with various programs. One of my church’s things is that it built a small food pantry that people can drive up and get free food. Our church and surrounding communities are putting food in there regularly because the food runs out quickly. It’s a program that is a no-questions-asked scenario because it helps so many people can have a meal that they might not be able to afford. I’ve seen similar programs at work. I recently read an article about groups taking plastic bags from grocery stores and knitting them into blankets for the homeless community. Communities have needs. It’s up to the people within those communities to figure out those needs and the best way to assist others.  

One of the reasons I felt compelled to write about communities today is because I’ve seen an enormous outpouring of assistance over the last year from people who continuously give back. It’s almost restored my faith in humanity from all the adverse problems we face in the world. I watched on the news about how communities were banding together to help each other after several tornados touched down in the Eastern States. I saw people set aside their grievances with each other to look for a missing child. I’ve seen communities come together when needed most.  

Sharing and caring is what communities are and should be about in this day and age. You can find problems anywhere you look but seeking solutions is not always at the top of our list. What’s important is we identify the needs in our community and work together to make the changes. We will always have people who stir the pot. Why not add ingredients to that pot to make a tastier solution? What I mean by this is the story of the stone soup. It’s a story that dates back to ancient days. A few adaptations vary, but in essence, the story reminds people of how one person can’t always change the world, but their acts can get others to help change the world for the better. “The Stone Soup is a European folk story in which hungry strangers convince the people of a town to each share a small amount of their food to make a meal that everyone enjoys and exists as a moral regarding the value of sharing. In varying traditions, the stone has been replaced with other common inedible objects, and therefore the fable is also known as axe soupbutton soupnail soup, and wood soup.” (Wikipedia)

The story talks about how several weary travelers were passing through the village carrying an empty pot. When they arrived, the villagers were unwilling to share any of their food with the very hungry travelers. The travelers found a stream and filled their pot with water. Curiosity got the better of the villagers, so one of them inquired about what the travelers were doing. The travelers answer that they are making “stone soup,” which tastes lovely and which they would be delighted to share with the villager, although it still needs a little bit of garnish, which they are missing, improving the flavor.

Then a villager who had carrots arrived and contributed a few of those to make the soup tastier. Another villager walks by, inquiring about the pot, and the travelers again mention their stone soup which has not yet reached its full potential. The villager hands them a little bit of seasoning. More and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. The stone becomes discarded because it wasn’t edible, and the travelers and villagers enjoyed their creation. The travelers cleverly tricked the villagers into sharing their ingredients with them, but the lesson learned is invaluable. We all have contributions that we make in this world. Alone, we might make a slight difference. Together we can achieve greatness.  

While you are a part of your community, you might look at your surroundings with new eyes. If you feel overwhelmed, you probably are. Take a step back and learn to ask for help when you need it because many people have skills that need utilizing.  

Strong communities are using the people around them to help them get stronger. We all are part of various communities. Never be afraid or intimidated to take part in your communities. Showing up is only part of the solution. Opening ourselves up when we want to hide is one of the most important things we can do. When we give ourselves a chance to unite our communities, we begin to see what’s going on in our lives is essential, but there are so many others who are struggling with issues we can’t begin to fathom. No matter what community you find you belong in, remember that communities can’t exist without the people and animals residing in them. Sometimes we are not the only ones that need a helping hand. Use the power you possess to bring your community more significant opportunities. Something tells me you will find things you never thought you wanted but needed all along. Have a great day, everyone.  

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