Sunday, July 29, 2012

Community Is

other people loving my children.

We have been blessed to be part of a community in which people enjoy our kids. They will spend time with our children, feed them, and savor all the funny stories that emerge from their moment-to-moment lives.

But love isn't just about the fun times. Community begins to emerge when other adults will take my children's character development seriously. They will correct my children when they do things that are beneath their character. And they will ask about what my parental expectations are in order better to serve my children. Their love will be tough enough to say No even when my daughter is being exceptionally cute, even when all the other kids are getting candy.

Community grows from others' willingness to seek to understand our desires for our children, and then serve those desires. It's an extra mile to go, extra trouble to take, extra hope to envision. But from that community will come my children's faith that life is neither My Family Against the World nor Me Against My Parents. They will learn that the network of support and accountability for their lives is broader than two people. They will discover that God is molding them with many hands.

We spent last week at Pilgrim Pines, a family camp to which family friends have been going for decades. Among all the normal campy joys of a week in rural New Hampshire I found a deeper and more sublime joy: hundreds of children running amok while hundreds of parents watched out for them all. I found a common atmosphere of character and trust. I found an opportunity to rest, not just because I was on vacation, but because the shared burden of caring for dozens of children is lighter than the stingy weight of raising my child by myself.

As with every camp experience, we are challenged to take what we find in one vacation week and carry it into the other fifty-one weeks. But at least we're one week ahead on making the world a better place.

~ emrys