This morning in a "secret" group on Facebook—a photographic community centered around a special teaching, learning, and healing place on the island of Moloka'i—a friend posted the news of the death (or as she put it, "transition") of one of our members, Chris. There have followed many tributes to his talent and positive spirit, his joy and celebratory creativity, as well as many wonderful photos of this big bear of a man.
I did not know Chris personally. He was not in the one workshop at the Hui Ho'olana that I attended. But I "met" him through this FB group. We were mutual admirers of each other's work. I knew from my cursory interaction with him that he was a generous, big-hearted soul.
I am saddened by the loss of him. Only one year older than me.
This has got me thinking about community. The online Hui community is vibrant. I don't participate much, but the activity today has me pledging to be more active. It's a valuable space, full of people I don't know or hardly know (though one—the one who got me involved, and the one who took the above shot of Chris—is a good friend now), but that obviously doesn't matter. We all "know" each other, and more to the point, appreciate each other. It's also a community full of creative energy. That's certainly worth becoming more invested in.
I have a community of writer strangers at a wonderful writing workshop space called Scribe Lab. There, too, alas, I'm not as active as I'd like to be. (Perhaps I stretch myself too thin?) But the energy is palpable whenever I do take the time to check in, read the other women's thoughts and writings, and post something myself.
Every month this past year and a half, I've gotten together with a small group of writers to discuss work that we submit. Well, they do most of the submitting, but I'm sure I'm a good critiquer. And one of these days I'll submit some work of my own. Maybe this month. It's not inconceivable. Though it would have to involve actually writing something. . . .
I used to be part of a book group, but I reluctantly bowed out a couple of months ago, for various reasons. I miss that community, both the friendship and the good discussions we had about books. Maybe when I get less busy and a leisurely weekday afternoon is something I can conceive of, I'll rejoin. Fortunately, I have an open invitation.
Ten years ago, I would have counted my Monterey Bay Aquarium third-shift group of volunteer guides an important community. I did that for over fifteen years. I am still in touch with several of that group, although since I moved on, the third shift has reinvented itself—a couple of times.
I still am in touch with some old high school and college friends. A couple of members of a women's group here in Monterey.
And then there are a few of the people I consider my best friends, even if I don't see them very often (certainly not often enough)—and many of them I met more or less randomly: by working in the same building, or via a colleague of David's, or through the introduction of a mutual friend, or by being penpals through the Christian Science Monitor when I was a kid, or because of a chance mutual connection to a family in Belgium when I was going to boarding school in Germany and needed a "home" during school breaks
All these are my community. I'm grateful for every last soul.