A recurring theme for me is the wonderment that comes in observing the web of human-ness that goes by the name of “community.”
Although my awareness of this intricate weaving is not always the sharpest, when I am smacked up side the head with a particularly obvious and involved example, I am in awe.
There are a number of analogies that can be used to describe community.
Building blocks, the kind used by children, provide a good one.
With proper planning, a base can be laid that allows structures to rise that reach the play-room sky. The blocks can be stacked in various ways to achieve the same result: bricks for a solid facade or lattice-like for nearly as much air as block. Some blocks carry great loads while others might be added for decoration.
The strongest and most interesting projects use a combination of techniques that utilize the strengths and allow for the weaknesses of each approach.
And so it seems to be with healthy and vibrant communities.
My most recent moment of clarity about the majesty of community came this past weekend. It wasn’t an act of heroism or selfless giving or a example a particularly broad and meaningful connection. It was a dance recital.
Seeing a dance performance during the holidays certainly isn’t anything out of the ordinary. Lots of folks make it a tradition to see some version of “The Nutcracker” this time of year.
This recital, however, was no dress-up affair, at least for the audience.
The performance had a bit of everything, from hip-hopping santas to tapping around the Christmas tree and hula dancing to a Muppets carole. The thing that held it all together, the foundation, was community.
No, all the dancers didn’t perform flawlessly but they did give it their all in front of friends and family. Sometimes, for the littlest ones, that meant waving at parents during their number or standing frozen in place as it ended. Some of the older performers had a glow that comes with realizing a dream that had lain dormant under years of adult responsibilities.
And there was more.
There was the bake sale with proceeds going to help the up-and-comers, the stage lighting that during the week might have doubled as construction spotlights, the hand-sewn costumes and the sign on the stage holding the plastic patio-chair seating open for, in order: grandparents, people holding infants and anyone willing to admit they were old and needed it.
There were shining moments on stage, too.
Some of the dancers, young and old, showed flashes of true talent honed by hours of hard work and patient, knowledgeable instruction. I found myself imagining which one might become a star and find themselves years from now embarrassed in a supermarket tabloid by a picture taken at this recital.
I decided, however, that even if none had that dubious honor, I was fortunate to be cross-legged on the floor with limbs going numb, a witness to these moments that would undoubtedly become such important parts to so many lives.
And add a block or two to the community.
Jim Hills is publisher of The Enterprise Newspapers.