A runner runs. He has been running for days. Running errands here, running errands there. He is exhausted and thirsty. The dusty road is getting to him, drying him out. On the corner ahead he spies it. A tall glass of liquid. His speed increases. His sweat-drenched hair starts spraying around like a shampoo commercial. The last few steps burn in muscles he had recently discovered and he picks up the glass like a rabid dog… He smells it. TEA. ICED TEA. Somehow the liquid is ice cold and he starts to drink it.
Lemon. His favourite. He drinks it quite fast. Gulp after gulp after gulp. It quenches. It satisfies. It refreshes his very essence. The tea is perfect. It even feels like it rests him. He sits for a moment on the grass and continues to drink, the glass doesn’t seem to be emptying. When he feels refreshed enough, he puts the glass back where it was, and runs on. Feeling like a completely new man.
Community looks different where you find it, otherwise it is less effective. Lemon Iced Tea would not be as welcoming or as refreshing if found in the snow. Or in the midst of a lemon allergy.
This week I met a lovely couple who lead a community in Vilnius. This community serves English speakers in a non english speaking country. The community is mainly made up of travellers, business people and public servants. Most are not around for long periods of time and aren’t committed to help often, but see the community as a refreshment in times of stress, change and weight. So the way this community functions and its goals, its reason for being has to be different from a community lead by the same people in Michigan, AND different again by a community lead by the same people in North East Africa. It HAS to be different. Like warm tea in the snow. Or plain tea with no sugar for those who have trained themselves to enjoy the taste of tea. But so often we think ALL cultures are the same. So ALL communities should look the same.
Community serves a purpose. For people. Not for a set of lifeless rules written on a sheet of paper tens of thousands of miles away.
Think. Create. Refresh.