John 5 begins with the story of Jesus at the Bethesda pool where lay “a multitude of invalids.” The belief was that after an angel troubled the waters, the first one in was healed. Jesus spoke with a man who had been there for thirty-eight years.
“Do you want to be healed?” Jesus asked him.
“Sir, I have no one,” the man replied. No one to put him into the pool when the water is stirred. A multitude of invalids, but each concerned for himself.
To have no one.
In contrast —
C is for Community.
My father and mother enjoyed traveling after my father retired, but as my mother’s dementia grew worse, traveling became more difficult. One night in New York City, my father awoke to hear the heavy hotel door click shut and realized that my mother was no longer in the room. He found her in the hallway. Another time she got away from him at the airport, and still another time she wandered off in Greece.
On that trip to Greece, their last big trip, the other ladies in the tour group saw the need and began watching out for my mother. What began as a group of strangers ended as a caring group.
“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.” Anthony J. D’Angelo
Community doesn’t have to be intimate to be functional. Even a small thing, like holding the door open for someone struggling with mobility, can be an act of community. It says, “I am willing to help you, even if it inconveniences me a little.”
Sometimes community is very intimate. I was horrified to see that my mother had had an incidence with incontinence while visiting an old friend of my father. “Oh! I’m so sorry!” I had said when my mother stood to go. “Let me get something to clean that!”
“No, no,” the woman had said. “Your job is to take care of your parents. I can clean this up.”
Looking out for one another.
Circling the wagons in Greece, in Florida, in Cooperstown.
We can be community to those we encounter. We just need to be willing.