People have funny ideas about what “community” is. Some think that it’s formed by a list of rules like the sign you first see at a pool that states clearly: No Running, No Diving, No Alcohol. Just keep the rules and you can stay. Break the rules and you just might lose your pool privileges.
Others think of community as being in the pool together; this is what they have in common. They are all in the water and they are all wet.
Some pools have memberships and the members have the entrance codes to the gate and think of themselves as card carrying members—and they are—whether they come to the community pool or not.
But community is more than the pool. It is more about the story of the pool; the story of the pool and the Lifeguard.
You see, no one comes to the pool anticipating getting splashed in the face by someone else or someone’s kid. But that happens. A lot happens at the pool. People relax, talk, and get to know one another. Kids from different families make lifelong friends. Young adults sometimes fall in love. There are birthday parties and swimming lessons and picnics.
But there are also people whose bathing suits are just a little too revealing. And, there is also that one little boy who sometimes runs and yells and disturbs the peace. All the dad does is yell at the boy, the mother is embarrassed and the conversation she was in just died.
So life at the pool isn’t always ideal so some people leave one pool for another. Somewhere out there (they think) the amount of chlorine is just right and all the children are properly sedated and everyone has the proper tan lines. They wish there were more rules, their rules. They forget the words of the Lifeguard:
“If you are careful not to splash those who do not splash you, what reward have you? And if you accept only those who behave like you, do not even the publicans do the same?”
So they move on and miss out on the Story and all the stories that are made. They somehow don’t get that life in the pool is about bearing with one another, reaching out, splashing back, patience, reminding others about the rules, allowing time for imitation and emulation to set in, for kids to grow up, for parents to grow up, to be around long enough to know everyone by name and where everyone—and I mean everyone—learns to watch the deep end.
They don’t understand that the stated rules are for children.
Long Summer Days
Community is about eating hamburgers with ketchup because no one brought mayo and the time that Jimmy held his breath underwater longer than Tom. It’s about Amy slipping and scraping her knee really bad and having to sit out the rest of the day but a bunch of her friends sat with her and they all played a card game. It’s about that time that it started to rain and it got so cold so fast and we huddled in blankets under the awning and Greg told us that his parents might be breaking up. The clouds passed and we jumped back into the water but we were all submerged into life together.
Community is that. The days run together and seem to last forever, because they do. Because they will.