Reflections on a Vocational Happenstance
Typically I am alone when I knit, or sitting with my husband. Even when I go to craft fairs and markets, I am knitting alone, hopefully interacting with browsers by, but I am the only one with work in her hands. Yesterday, for a change, I sat in a group of women, all of us knitting.
Thinking how to describe what that shared experience felt like to me, the word that comes to mind is "together". More than simply being in the same place at the same time, we were brought together by our knitting.
Then "community", I thought, is what were together for those hours: a community of knitters.
But that didn't seem to capture all that had passed between us; it felt more like "communion". Yes, I felt we were in communion during those few hours.
From different backgrounds, of different ages, we assembled at the same time in the same place because of something we have in common. Surely we also have differences, but those were not the focus of our time together.
All three of these english words -- common, community, communion -- share the same Latin root: commūnis m, f (neuter commūne);
Any people living in close proximity form a community; place is what they have in common. But the reasons for living in the same place are various and we often have no voice in choosing our neighbors. It may be easier to observe differences than similarities.
"Community building", it seems to me, could more rightly be called "establishing communion". Living in the same place without taking time to understand one another in a meaningful way is not enough to help us manage when times are hard. We will not be able to lift each other up if we do not take time to understand each other.
"Knit" is a word that lends itself well to idiom: bones knit themselves together, brows are knit, etc. Communities can be known as "close-knit" or "tight-knit". With a positive connotation, this can mean that the people within the community care for one another, support each other, nurture each other. A negative connotation can indicate that the community is clannish, or clique-ish, or exclusive.
All of these thoughts and more passed through my mind yesterday as I sat knitting with women whom I did not know well, had not previously recognized as members of my local community, but found myself working easily with, in kind communion.