Where everybody knows your name

Not actually us.

The other night I spent a wonderful evening sharing dinner with a group of friends. I don’t even know how long we’ve known each other. Years ago we started as a group for women clergy in town. As we discussed what the group might be, we considered being a book group or a sermon preparation group.. and then we decided that we mainly wanted just to talk with each other.

And so we did. Every month we gathered at someone’s house – or later, my office. We had tea and coffee and talked about our work. And our lives. We met together for years until finally people started moving away… Texas. New Mexico. Winston-Salem. (okay, which one of those does not fit with the other?) Occasionally now one of our southwestern sisters comes through town and we get together.

The other night as the day grew short and our time together grew long, I watched this group. I appreciated the ease with which we are together with each other. We shared from our hearts, the good, bad and indifferent places. People offered encouragement and support. People offered new possibilities. We experienced community.

I’ve thought about that night a lot this week. So many of the people whom I see are hungry for that kind of community. “Cheers” was based on a place “where everybody knows your name” and I think there is within us a longing for those kinds of places. Places where they know our name. Where they know our heart.

But such community doesn’t just walk up to our door. It doesn’t happen without investment. And that’s where a lot of us flounder.

We create time for everything else in our schedules except each other. Or with the first sign of a disagreement, we’re done. We walk away. We never risk allowing ourselves to take the risk of deepening relationships. We forget how important friendships can be.

Community is messy. Community is demanding. Community is risky. But when it happens, it is priceless.

This week, pick up the phone, open up your e-mail, log onto Facebook… and reach out to someone. Someone from whom you’ve drifted away. Someone with whom you’d like to have a closer friendship.

It can’t start without opening the door.



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