I have been invited to write a column for the Wilmette-Kenilworth Patch. It's a weekly foray into communal wisdom. I hope you enjoy them.
once worked at a little cafe in the Shockoe Bottom district of Richmond, Virginia. I was the morning baker. I would arrive before the morning papers were delivered and start making the bagels and cakes and sweets for the morning customers. It was a fun job to have right after graduating college. I met new people every day, but what I enjoyed most of all were the regulars.
Some came in once a week. Some came in every day. Every Tuesday one woman would arrive and order a muffin and a cup of coffee. She would then sit down and work on her lesson plans for the day. She taught creative writing at a local university. We got to know one another well enough that we would speak about her students and our lives. I also learned what her favorite muffin was and would make sure they were ready for her on Tuesdays. We became good friends and when I stopped working at the cafÃ©, she gifted me with a volume of poetry that I treasure to this day.
We were rooted together in one place in community. She was a regular and through her commitment to community in this way, both of our communities expanded.
Are you a regular? Is there a place, or places, where you can walk in the door and â€œeverybody knows your name?â€ Yes, the popular television series, â€œCheers,â€ should come to mind. Being a regular somewhere expands our sense of community, our sense of belonging to a place.
Over the last several decades we have prided ourselves on our mobility. The automobile industry and the expansion of the highway system have given us tremendous freedom. This freedom has been an incredible boon to industry and to families seeking work. We commute more. We drive more. We enjoy a tremendous amount of freedom. It has also meant the gradual decline of community.
Itâ€™s not that we donâ€™t value community any longer. Itâ€™s simply that it takes more of an intentional commitment to crafting community than perhaps it once did. So, Iâ€™m not offering these statements as a critique, but simply reminding us of what we all ready know. We need to be in a place. Together. And it has to be intentional.
Wisdom arises from being together in community. This engagement is always a choice. We can be a regular somewhere if we choose. I encourage you to find a place where you can goâ€¦once a week, perhaps, at the same time every day. Be boring and get the same thing every time. Then get to know the name of the clerk or barista.
You will find yourself more engaged in the community in which you live. You may even make a friend.
Be a regular.
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