Friday, December 17, 2010

Community is...

To kind of wrap up my series of posts on culture, I wanted to relay an experience I had with our Creative Worship Team a couple of weeks ago.

We found ourselves having a Tuesday night where we really didn't have that much planning to do, but since we enjoy spending time with each other so much, we decided to meet anyway and go on a little outing.

As I always like to use the time we are together as a learning experience, I thought we'd visit some places that could teach us something about culture.

So first we went to a local restaurant owned and ran by an Englishman who serves local, sustainable, organic foods as traditional dishes. His desire for his business is to support local community and economy. He wants to build his restaurant into a spot where people come by for food and a good conversation. It was so fun to be greeted with warmth and welcome. Our server was just about constantly with us, answering questions, asking us about ourselves and joining us in laughter. The owner came by a couple times to talk and shake hands. The team had a wonderful time trying all of the unique dishes I ordered up for them.

It was wonderful and refreshing. It was warm and welcoming. As one of us said, "I think I could live here."

After that we all went a couple doors down to a local independent movie theater. As we went into the very humble auditorium, we were all suprised at how rustic and small it was. It quickly became apparent many of the others in attendance were regulars. This fact was accentuated when the movie was about to begin and the manager came in to welcome us and began calling some people by name. He then proceeded to verbally do the announcements and previews before the lights dimmed and the features started.

It was kind of like going to someone's house you didn't know to watch a movie with their friends. But you found them to be the most hospitable and accomadating sort of people. It made you want to go back. It made you want to be a part of what they had.

That community.

As I came out of this experience, I was the most intrigued by how both of these places made it nearly impossible to stay anonymous. In our increasingly self-dependent, individualized culture this type of social interaction is becoming more rare.

And uncomfortable.

And yet, we each found ourselves drawn to these places. I think we all would go back to either one.

So it leaves me wondering, how can I push myself and those around me to face our discomfort and stop being so anonymous.

In that is at least one of the steps towards community.

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