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Community

Autumn light.

We are all leaves on different branches of the same tree.

~ Laura Lynne Jackson

In order to survive, a plurality of true communities would require not egalitarianism and tolerance but knowledge, an understanding of the necessity of local differences, and respect. Respect, I think, always implies imagination – the ability to see one another, across our inevitable differences, as living souls.

~ Wendell Berry

A community of trees and shrubs at the edge of the Future Woods.

I’ve been thinking a lot about community lately, and what defines a community.  There are a host of definitions of the word “community.”  Here’s a short and edited (for further brevity) list from a quick Google search:

  1. A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
  2. A group of people living together and practising common ownership
  3. A particular area or place considered together with its inhabitants.
  4. The people of a district or country considered collectively, especially in the context of social values and responsibilities; society.
  5. A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
  6. A group of interdependent organisms of different species growing or living together in a specified habitat.

(The attribution for these definitions is “From Oxford” so I’m thinking, given some of the spellings, that it’s the OED.)

Living together.

Because I love words, I am always interested in the roots or etymology of words.  The Online Etymology Dictionary has this:

late 14c., “a number of people associated together by the fact of residence in the same locality,” also “the common people” (not the rulers or the clergy), from Old French comunité “community, commonness, everybody” (Modern French communauté), from Latin communitatem (nominative communitas) “community, society, fellowship, friendly intercourse; courtesy, condescension, affability,” from communis “common, public, general, shared by all or many” (see common (adj.)).

Latin communitatem “was merely a noun of quality … meaning ‘fellowship, community of relations or feelings’ ” [OED], but in Medieval Latin it came to be used concretely to mean “a society, a division of people.” In English, the meaning “common possession or enjoyment” is from c. 1400. Sense of “a society or association of persons having common interests or occupations” also is from c. 1400.

An Old English word for “community” was gemænscipe “community, fellowship, union, common ownership,” from mæne “common, public, general,” and thus probably composed from the same PIE roots as communis. Middle English also had commonty (late 14c.) “the common people; a community,” also later meaning “land held in common” (c. 1600).

(PIE = Proto Indo European)

Reaching out.

It’s a good word, community, with many different definitions, some more modern than others.  For instance, there is this, the blogging community, something you could look at as a whole (all who blog) or as the small groups that often get formed, usually around our commonalities.  Photographers follow photographers, artists follow other artists, writers other writers, and so on and so forth, although it must be pointed out that there is a great deal of overlap.  Just as you probably do, I follow people with all sorts of interests other than photography, nature, and/or writing.  Maybe what we have in common is related more to our values than it is to what we do or how we define ourselves.

One of the young bucks in our community of deer.

The world of life, of spontaneity, the world of dawn and sunset and starlight, the world of soil and sunshine, of meadow and woodland, of hickory and oak and maple and hemlock and pineland forests, of wildlife dwelling around us, of the river and its wellbeing–all of this [is] the integral community in which we live.

~ Thomas Berry

Snowy Egret. (Chincoteague, VA)

We typically think of community in terms of people, villages, towns, cities, and even globally.  I’ve been pondering nature as community.  Not just within itself but as my community and as our community.  I think we did ourselves a great disservice when we moved away from being a part of nature and became “civilized.”  I’m not even sure we are civilized as defined by dictionary.com as:

  • having an advanced or humane culture, society
  • polite; well-bred; refined

It certainly doesn’t appear that way if you judge by the antics of the politicians, particularly the Republicans, in the hearing held today.  Those on the other side of things (and why are there even sides to this??) undoubtedly disagree with my take.  They are quite busy with debunked conspiracy theories, justifying breaking the law, kowtowing to the base with talking points from a certain news organization, and other such things, so perhaps they’re missing a few of the clues about why this important.  Enough of that or I’ll be rambling and ranting.  Apparently I am not civilized, either.

Wading.

When I’m outside, on my walks and hikes or just sitting somewhere under a tree or on the beach or meandering through the meadows, I feel a connection with the land and with the other beings who inhabit this land.  Perhaps that is a result of being out there daily, listening, seeing, opening myself up to what is there.  I can’t explain the why’s of it.  I also can’t explain the reason (or reasons) why everyone doesn’t feel this kind of connection when they’re in the great outdoors, even if that outdoors is a park in a city.

When nature and “civilization” meet.

Each form, each individual and each community, shimmering with the wholeness of nature’s soul and with its own, is awake to itself and the moment by moment configurations of its relationships…

… The conviction that everything has its place within the greater soul of nature, that everything is in wakeful relationship with every other member of its community or communities, confers to everything an inherent value.

~ Emma Restall Orr, The Wakeful World

Reflecting.

I’ve had friends tell me how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place.  They are right.  I am very fortunate and although I seem ungrateful at times with my occasional homesickness for the land we lived on prior to coming here, I am truly thankful for this gift of beauty, connection, and community.  Very much so.  It is this luck, as well as my daily connection, that allows me to take some of the photos I have been given permission to take.  I refer to permission because I do ask.  That may seem silly.  Perhaps it is.  And it is difficult to judge when permission is granted other than to assume that if I am able to take the shot, the answer is yes.

As we look at each other.

Relation is the essence of everything that exists.

~ Meister Eckhart

With all things and in all things, we are relatives.

~ Sioux Proverb

Time to move on.

The question is whether any civilization can wage relentless war on life without destroying itself, and without losing the right to be called civilized.

~ Rachel Louise Carson

First snow of the season.

That’s about it from me on this dreary Friday.  The sky is various shades of gray, the air is still and relatively warm for November, and there is a coastal storm on the way.  A gale warning has been issued and is in effect from midnight tonight until 6 PM on Saturday.  Our local weather folks are saying things will be windy and wild around here.  Most of the trees are still holding on to their leaves, and this latest round of wind might finally sweep them from their branches and bring them to ground.  I don’t think we’ll see much in the way of a sunset this evening, but I might go out to the Point anyway.  Just in case.  You’re welcome to join me.  Sunset is scheduled for 4:52 PM.

Be good, be kind, be love.  ♥

Snowflakes on roses.

A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy:  1,181)  The first snow of the season.  1,182)  Frost and a hard freeze.  We need a good, hard freeze to help with the insect problems (deerflies, pine bark beetles, etc.).  1,183)  Community, all of it.  Friends, family, you (my fellow bloggers), fellow students in the class I’m taking, our little local affiliate of Keep America Beautiful and all the people helping with that, and all the beings we live with on this land (and on this planet).  1,184)  The Mute button and when that’s not good enough, the Off button.  1,185)  The trust of some of the wildlife around here.  

Wednesday’s sunset, after the snow fell.

Author:

Robin is a photographer, artist, writer, wife, sometime poet, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, friend, and occasional traveler currently living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She finished a 365 commitment to get outside every day in 2011, and has turned it into a lifelong commitment taking one or more walks each day. Robin will continue to share her walks through her words and images on Breezes at Dawn. Older posts can be found at Life in the Bogs, her previous blog. Robin and her husband are in the midst of renovating the house and property they refer to as the Wabi-Sabi Ranch, 35 acres that include marsh, a dock on a tidal creek, meadows, and woodlands. Every day brings new discoveries.

25 thoughts on “Community

  1. I miss politeness, a lot. And I’m affected by my own world events, but several times during the hearing today, I felt like crying. This whole thing makes me so sad. This president makes me so sad. Nature helps. I couldn’t get to such a pretty spot today, so I enjoyed yours through your photos. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re welcome, and thank you, Tara. When it comes to contact and connections in person, I find that politeness still exists. What I miss is what I thought was respect and politeness within our government and our politics. The disrespect and anger (and Jim Jordan from Ohio who can’t seem to afford a jacket) is what gets to me. There used to be some “modicum of decorum,” or dignity to being in office. I felt like crying too, watching the hearing. I am grateful for those things that bring a sense of comfort, including nature. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Politeness in person is somewhat MIA these days, too, near Philly (in addition to those in government that can’t seem to be decent). I know, right? We should start a GoFundMe for Mr. Jordan’s sport coat wardrobe. Their anger and also their hollow “thank you for your service” followed by grandstanding is truly sickening. The people who testified give me hope, though. The whole ordeal makes me sad, but they are the light, to me. We’ll get through this… … … As Bill Maher said last night, the pendulum always swings back. We may be witnessing, finally, the swinging back toward dignity and decency.

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  2. Another beautiful, thoughtful post, Robin. This was a lovely respite after the hearing today. It’s all so challenging at times. I feel it deeply, as a former civil servant who took the oath to heart. Thank you for offering the natural beauty on your photos and the discussion of community, especially now. 🙏🏻💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome, and thank you, Carrie. It’s all very challenging lately. I was a civil servant too, many moons ago, and took the oath seriously. It was heartbreaking to see the way former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was treated (and continues to be treated by that guy in the White House). Her opening statement was compelling, dignified and at the same time, there was grace about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Robin. We are so in sync on this one. I actually have a beach walk focused on communities in the final phases – therefore I love the fact that you included different aspects of community. … and you did very well in terms of mentioning the political community while biting your tongue.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Maybe what we have in common is related more to our values than it is to what we do or how we define ourselves.”

    I believe you’ve hit upon the essence of community whether it be here in the blogosphere or out in the real world. I respect and enjoy the differences among people in the same way that I enjoy nature’s various seasons and plants and weather patterns. I didn’t know any of the history behind the word community, so your explanation of the evolution of the word is fascinating– and underscores the idea that the concept of community has been part of the human story for a long time. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You do such wonderful things in your photos with light. I didn’t watch much of the hearings, just as I was walking to and fro. I read some on it. The whole thing makes me sad. My House Rep keeps pointing out that many of them (her included) are not on the committees that are holding these hearings and that the rest of them are getting work done, but the whole thing seems like a big waste of time given we have only a year left. I am certainly not a Trump supporter, but these hearings seem so pointless. We already know what each side will say. But then, I’m not political and am not watching enough to truly understand. I do know we need to move back to civility soon. And that this country can not afford in any way 4 more years of 45. I’d love to be able to read what the historians say 100 years from now about the events of this administration.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It would make for some interesting reading, Dawn. I don’t know if all of this is a waste of time or not. I don’t like that those at the top, including 45, are getting away with breaking the law and it seems like the Republicans couldn’t care less even though he goes against pretty much everything they used to say they stand for. The direction we’re headed in is not good, especially the lack of civility. I hope the guy is voted out, but I have a feeling he won’t be if the Dems don’t get their act together (or even if they do since we seem to be headed towards a repeat of 2016).

      Like

  6. For an outsider it’s almost unfathomable what’s going on with this impeachment. I totally agree with you in why the is another side? It would seem that decency would or should be part of what’s going on… At least with have the beautiful community of Mother Nature to retreat to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I often wonder what all this looks like from the outside, Otto. Thank you for your input. It’s almost unfathomable to me, too. Decency is not something our current president practices or inspires in others, unfortunately. Yes, thankfully there is Mother Nature and her community to take us away from all of this for a little while. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I rarely comment on politics, but I have to chime in here. I agree with you. I can handle people whose politics differ from mine, but not those who turn a blind eye to inhumanity and less than the truth. I hope your walks have been balm for your soul . . .

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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