Yesterday was a terrible day. Various issues, including a child puking in the car, melded together to form an absolutely hellish day. It was all I could do to pull it together and get through with my sanity intact.
And then my friend Carrie shared a wonderful little article entitled “I miss the village”. Frankly, it made me cry, because a village was EXACTLY what I needed right then, and yet, I don’t have one. Now, the village that Bumni Laditan describes is more akin to the villages of long ago. The village of cavemen. The village of native tribes. The small towns with a well in the center. The communities that formed on the wagon trails. Those villages, where you were practically all one family are practically extinct in modern culture. The industrial revolution took away the farming communities and build factories full of people who could not speak to each other because of the noise and smoke, where the only thing you could do after a long day was to go home, wash yourself in a basin, pray that your children stayed safe (likely in their own factory jobs) and collapse into bed. Or maybe stay up until all hours, to do your washing.
Social lives, friends, were the purview of the upper class, the elite who could afford to hire washing women and maids and butlers and spend their time in social clubs. This isn’t to say that was perfect, because cattiness is nothing new. But not having to work to live certainly makes it easier to socialize. And this isn’t to say that the poor never ever had friends, but you certainly did not have a “village” where everyone is on equal footing and is able to equally help you. The separation of classes meant that the rich required the help of the poor, and thus the poor had less to give to each other.
But humans are not made for solitude. When we learn about the Theology of the Body we learn that God is three persons who continually are loving. Loving each other, loving their creations. And since we are created in God’s image, we too are created to be loving. We are created to love others, to love our spouses, our friends, all those around us. And we are created to love our creations, our children, even when they are in top form at the end of a lonnnnnng day. We are not made to sit in our homes, alone for hours, while our spouse works hard. We are not made to spend all our time working and never loving others. This is why moms gravitate toward social media. We can’t leave our homes, so we reach out through our technology. We blog because our voices cry out to be heard, by anyone. We can’t always get together in person, because our schedules are jam packed with serving our kids, but if I can like a friends picture on instagram while I pee, I’m able to fill up my love meter, and hers too!
So where do this leave us? How do we get our village back? What does it even look like in this day and age?
For the Christian, we can look at the early church. I love this passage so much, because it illustrates what our communities should look like.
Acts 2:42-47New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
42 They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. 43 Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
“Communal Life”, they lived in community! They prayed together, the breaking of the bread was mass, along with the prayers they said together. They were “together”!!! They weren’t alone! They didn’t do their own things, only gathering for prayers. They met daily at the temple, and ate their meals together.
But, you say, we don’t live in a small town where we can walk to each others homes? Phooey. We have cars. We have bikes. If we want to make it happen, then damn it, we need to make it happen. We need to gather together, or we will fall apart all alone.
Practically speaking, this means we need to connect. If it’s easiest to connect with people through social media, then awesome! Make those connections. Share your thoughts, make thoughtful comments, participate in discussions! If you want to take it further, invite someone over for an afternoon. Keep trying! Set a date, make it work. Prioritize it. Invite a family over for dinner and drinks, while the kids run in the sprinkler. Start a couples group and recruit some babysitters who can watch the kids at one house, while the parents go to another house (or a bar…).
I’ll admit this, I’m terrible at this. I’m a weird extrovert who is extraordinarily introverted in many ways. I’m terrified of being hurt by people who call me friend (because I’ve been hurt by so called “friends”). But at some point, I’m going to have to trust. And I’m putting this out here now. If any of my friends are having one of those hellish days. Where you need to just escape, or you need someone to watch your kids in an emergency, let me know. If I really absolutely can not do it, I’ll do everything I can to help you find someone who can.
Let’s build a village, instead of saying it’s impossible.