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Finding your place in the village right for you

Finding your place in the village right for you

Finding your place in the village right for you

The need for community and the relationships we find there are even more important in this era of isolation. Photo Nick Morrison@unsplash.

By Belinda Cassie

We’ve probably all at some time or another heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”. It’s been attributed to everyone from the writers of Proverbs (in the Bible) to Hillary Clinton. I came across it again today and it got me thinking that we could extend the sentiment, because the need for a village, whatever that might look like, doesn’t stop at the end of childhood.

I’m a staunchly independent woman. Some might say a little too independent and, truth be told, some might be right on that one. But lately, I’ve recognised my need for community and the relationships we find there, perhaps in this era of COVID-required isolation it has become clearer than ever before. You see I need that mother figure. You all know the one – she’ll tell you that you look pale and ask if you are eating properly and getting enough sleep. She might spoil you at Christmastime, or any other time the fancy takes her, for that matter. She’s your biggest cheerleader, and the first to have the tough conversations with you too.

Sometimes she brings with her someone who is like a father figure, although he might arrive through a different avenue. He’s the one who tells horrible dad jokes, but you laugh along because, as bad as they might be, dad jokes are always hilarious … although that could be just me! He’s possibly going to lecture you about rotating your car tyres and shakes his head when you shrug your shoulders and mumble something about the last service.

You might acquire an older sister or two. They give amazing advice – whether you’ve asked for it or not. They’ll tell you if that haircut suits you, and definitely when that potential significant other doesn’t! They’ll likely share their home with you at times, an untold number of meals, and allow you to play aunty to their kids – which is a whole new kind of awesome.

If you’re lucky your village might have some younger sisters to mentor, and annoying brothers, and a wild aunty or three. Because sometimes that’s what family looks like, right? Maybe our village is built on biology, but often it’s not. I think for most of us, our village is made up of all the family that we choose for ourselves along the way. It’s all the people we get to love and be loved by for no other reason than the fact that we do.

It’s not always easy to come by. Some of us need to look a long time before we find it. Maybe it’s at school, or work, or the place we live. Or it might even be the folk we encounter at church – that’s where I’ve found most of mine over the years. We’re an unlikely village in some ways, spread widely across Australia, and some of my sisters are even across the ditch in New Zealand. But we’ve loved and laughed and cried, and at the centre of it all is Jesus, right in the middle of our village – Jesus who probably set up the barbecue and brought the fish and bread rolls and makes sure there are plenty of leftovers.

In our village we argue occasionally about politics and religion and climate change and whether pineapple belongs on pizza. At times we might even argue about Jesus, what Jesus had to say about life, the world, the way we live, and what it means for us to be people of faith. There’s room for that, too. Because if anyone taught us how to keep loving, whether we agree with each other or not, it was Jesus.

So, I think as much as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village for you and me to just be us. Right now a lot of what we do happens remotely. The bandies meet on Zoom and share supper and whatever stuff bandies talk about. A few of the old girls text each other meal pics, supposedly to share ideas, but I think it’s mostly for the laughs over the meals that fell flat. Some of us might just share memes because an appropriately timed meme is, in fact, our love language. And then we gather on Facebook live stream and we share prayers and a few thoughts on life and love and what we learnt from the Scriptures that week, and maybe we sing a few songs. And we look at the ticker to see who else is watching along with us because we still harbour this need to stay connected in spirit even when we can’t connect physically.

Because that’s our village, our quirky community at its best, and maybe whether we realise it or not, we’re all just trying to find a place in it. And maybe, while we’re finding our own place, we can make room for someone else to find theirs too.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, yes, pineapple totally belongs on pizza!





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