I kind of want to be Amish. Not all the time, but every now and then. If I ever manage to drive to the Big City for a trip to IKEA or a rare opportunity to hear live music, I usually come away thinking that I don't want to ever live in a big city. Instead, I want to buy a farm and churn butter. Well, sort of. I really just want a pretty farmhouse and an herb garden.
If that dream does ever come true, I'm going to also want to have a barn-raising, vintage Amish-style. You know, where you need a barn to house your livestock and your grains before the harsh winter sets in and so all your farmer friends come over and help you build one in half an hour. And while the men are building an awesome barn, their wives are setting up a 30 foot picnic table covered up with biscuits and chicken and pies and sweet tea. It's pretty much the best thing ever. Or, so I've read.
Here's where I make the connection between how to be intentional about community and Amish barn-raisings. We all have stuff that needs to get done around our houses. Leaf-raking, yard-work, painting rooms, repairing a fence, building a playset, sorting through children's clothes that need to be tagged for the consignment sale you entered but kind of wish you hadn't because it's become a stress bomb in your life. These are all major opportunities for some serious community. You need help. I need help. Why are we doing all this stuff alone? Invite some friends over to help you refinish your Grandma's antique dresser. Call some friends to see if they'll help you bake pies for the school bake sale. Instant Pie Party. And then, make sure they all know that when they need help doing something, you are totally there.
Maybe you're thinking you don't want to impose. I mean, your friends are busy. They've got other stuff going on. But, maybe, instead of looking at it as using your friends to knock out your to-do list (which it is not), look at it as an unconventional opportunity to spend some impromptu, unstructured, quality time with people. That kind of time is the foundation of real-life community building.
In case you're not convinced, here's a little C.S. Lewis quote that runs along these lines:
"Friends are not primarily absorbed in each other. It is when we are doing things together that friendship springs up - painting, sailing ships, praying, philosophizing, fighting shoulder to shoulder. Friends look in the same direction. Lovers look at each other: that is, in opposite directions." -Present Concerns: Essays by C.S. Lewis
I think it's interesting the distinction between friendship love and romantic love here. Friends aren't content to sit and stare at each other across a table. They do things! Together!
Community will happen when we are simply living life with people. The trick is to actually live life with them, not just sit and talk about the lives we're living separately from them.
Do life with people. Build barns with them. Bake pies with friends. Invite people into the crazy, chaos of your unorganized life and let them help you. And, then do the same for them.
Anybody want to build a barn next weekend? I'll bake a pie.
|The barn where my brother and his bride had their wedding reception last October. I heart it.|