Community, to me is not just a word used to refer to where we live, to me community is also how you live.

I began this blog a year ago after travelling back to my home town to pay respects to an amazing woman. Just last night, as I laid in bed and gave thanks to the Lord for so many people and things in my life. My mind wandered to Mary and community. Today as I scrolled Facebook, I see that today is the day her loved ones said good bye. I can’t help but believe this is a topic I am meant to share.

This amazing woman was my Auntie Mary she was a part of my life growing up as far back as I can remember. As we recounted our memories at her service and family shared stories and thanks, one thing became clear to me, Auntie Mary had the pleasure of belonging to a “community” and fostered that word in every way that she lived. Community is a word that I love so dear.

Community to me describes belonging, it involves a group of people and individuals that come together for the greater good. A community, assists, supports and stands strong for anyone belonging to it. My aunt herself was always there for a friend or neighbour in need, sewing and cooking and caring for everyone including all the orphan animals she took in. Mary had a magic about her, something both special and familiar. She left her spunk and brought warm hugs everywhere she went.  Although tiny, she had the heart of a giant and you would ever see her without her red lipstick and heels when in town.

She and uncle Mac were both very social and could always be found in the company of others. When not on the farm attending community events and gatherings was something they enjoyed. When Mac passed away Mary remained on the farm and continued to live and touch the lives of those around her. But Auntie never did get her drivers license, so having her living in the country required the good will of family, friends, and neighbours.

For 9 years those that loved Mary did their part in getting her to town for groceries and appointments. Not because anyone felt obligated, but because they cared for her and they wanted to. Because that is what a community does. They rise when one of their own falls, they join hands in support and help their friend, family or neighbour, and they do this because they are invested in your happiness or wellbeing of you and your family. Every time I go “home” to where I grew up, I get a warmth in my heart from knowing and living in this type of community.

This weekend is our Thanksgiving long weekend, and it is a time where family and friends will make time to spend it together.  I love the holidays for the gathering and all the visiting it brings. I love catching up and getting to see familiar faces. That is one thing growing up in small town and then moving away as an adult to go somewhere totally new, I missed ALL the faces.  Lots of people I meet love that they never actually run into people they know at the local store. But me, well that makes me sad. Going to town on the weekend for coffee with my dad or groceries with my mom growing up meant we would always see someone and that is a memory of small town living I will always cherish.

I pray my kids can know the heart of a community. In a fast-paced life, headed by electronic communication the personal relationships as we once knew it are fading. There is no time for country drives on a Saturday afternoon, impromptu visits don’t exist. Interaction falls on a schedule like work and activities, planned and executed like one more thing, on our to do list.  I want to know my neighbour. I want my kids to know how to lend a helping hand. I want them to know the feeling of investing in others and having others invest back into them.

I know the world is changing and evolving and there is no stopping it, but what we can continue to do is build character in our kids. We can nurture their souls and lead by example. Teaching our kids skills and values many of us were so fortunate to know and live. Our parents learned the value of hard work and perseverance and passed that along to us, now we must intentionally pass the torch. Working even harder to instil such characteristics in our kids that  a large part of the world will breed out of them through the evolution of instant gratification and electronic communication. I pray if enough of us take what we have learned from our own upbringings and share that with the world around us, we can protect and foster community in the generations to come.

Knowing and loving people like my Auntie Mary, is what fills my heart  with love for community. It is also because of that community, I do my best to carry that with me wherever I go. I hope you are lucky enough to have an “Auntie Mary” in your life. If you don’t maybe you will be inspired to spread some spunk, love and warm hugs to those around you.

Community,  may we know it, may be live it, may we raise it.