setting politics aside in favor of community

Thursday, December 15, 2016

I've been spending time with people.

Maybe that sentence would sound odd in the ear of a passing stranger, but those who know the contours of my life would understand. In my little house, all hours of each day, I work at words while my husband, in the basement, works on clay. Two artists with a grown-up son. Friendships (such cherished friendships) conducted primarily by email, letter, and phone. The contours.

But lately I've been making a point to go out and be. To join the members of my church in a Sunday afternoon Hunger project. To spend time at art shows, among other artists. To slip inside a neighbor's house for a long conversation. To join a gracious, extended family for Thanksgiving Eve dessert (so delicious in all ways), following a nine-dish meal built for my family of three. To spend a Sunday afternoon with a former student, listening to Colson Whitehead then walking the streets of Ardmore. To say yes to an invitation this very evening to welcome a famed, beloved writer to her new home an hour or so from here.

When the headlines blare news that is so much bigger than anything one person can affect, it helps to get out into the world and be.

Yesterday afternoon, my husband and I went to the Wayne Art Center, where so much good has happened for my husband's ceramics career (and where I have had so much fun being bad at mud), to buy a wedding gift for friends. On our way out, we stopped in on the ceramics studio—quiet now, for winter break, but still percolating with friends. The clay community at this center is built of teachers who know deeply and share what they know, kiln experts who care for every fired piece (placing each just so, glad for good results, concerned about cracks), students with talent, students on the verge, students (well, maybe just this one student) with only a handful of mini pots to show for their name.

The clay community is built of people who know one another, look toward and out for one another, tell and listen to stories. Age doesn't divide us, nor histories, nor income, nor resumes. People are who they naturally are. We wear ragged clothes. We get dirt in our hair. We screw up. We succeed. We trade words for art, advice for gratitude, concern for truth. We're glad for the good that happens to another. We're sad when life tilts the other way.

I've been spending time with people. I've been reminding myself of all the good out here, of what happens when people set politics aside in favor of community. When a show of force is sublimated to the power of the heart.


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