Helping Hands

My image of ‘the village’ is more than a little idealised. I see children running and laughing together, making up games, living in a world of their own imagining. Mothers with busy hands – cooking, weaving, mending, crafting – talking and commiserating. Men with dusty, leathery hands sitting down at the end of a long day, hugging a warm bowl of stew in the twilight.

And it would have been a little like that, along with the messiness of human interactions… and the raw, jagged edges of grief when the brutality of life crept through.

Comparing the nostalgic beauty of the tribal community to the isolated and contained living that we have now perfected is a little jarring. We ache for the nearness of this group to belong to, and find it momentarily in the distraction of shows and other people’s stories. The reality of humans living together in shared space is too much for our sensitive, protected psyches to latch onto, except in dream.

But if we don’t dip our toes into the pool of vulnerability – risking the chaos and messiness of opening up to those around us – how can we flourish? We expect too much from ourselves, not leaning into the strengths and promises of the group. Yet how can anyone hope to help, if we don’t know there is a need?

This post is part of a link up with an amazing community writers at Five Minute Friday. We free write for five minutes each Friday on a prompt. Join us!

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14 comments

  1. Lovely. I can almost feel the heat of the fire and savour the stew. You have a gift for word pictures.
    But you’re right, how will we ever know what we’re missing if we can’t even imagine a life of community like this? Better yet, how can I promote community today within the little tribe entrusted to me? Thanks, Emma.
    (coming to you today from FMF, spot #18)

    1. Thanks so much, Shauna! I love your conclusion and the way you put it – ‘the little tribe entrusted to me’ – both beautiful and wise! Really appreciate you stopping by 🙂

  2. Interesting bit of serendipity, Emma, as I had lately been thinking on John Llewellyn Rhys’ fine collection of short stories, “England Is My Village”.

    Rhys was a pilot in the RAF at the beginning of WW2, and his narratives describe the strong affection he had for that green and gentle land. Like so many of the talented writer-pilots of the war (Richard Hillary and Bert Stiles are prominent examples) he did not survive the war, being killed in 1943.

    #1 at FMF this week.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2016/07/your-dying-spouse-184-circle-of-help-fmf.html

  3. Emma, beautiful post. These words really spoke to me: “But if we don’t dip our toes into the pool of vulnerability – risking the chaos and messiness of opening up to those around us – how can we flourish?” I’m in the #5 spot this week.

    1. I struggle to dip my toes into that pool, but I’m trying to push myself more… funny how sometimes our words can be ahead of us! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. This is beautiful! I agree that we expect too much of ourselves at times. Vulnerability is not easy but it is so important for building community.

    1. It is sometimes the most difficult thing… but the most rewarding and connection-creating… one of the great paradoxes, I guess!

  5. What a great post, Emma!
    I totally second what you say – I catch myself being nostalgic for that community and intimacy and yet it’s so hard. It all starts with being a bit more ourselves, a bit more in need of help, a bit more of revealing how vulnerable we actually are.
    Thanks for this beautifully worded reminder!
    Happy weekend!

    1. I like that – something little that we can all do no matter where we are at in life… It is hard to know where to start sometimes, but I think you have nailed it. Humans are complicated and beautiful creatures, hey!?

  6. So beautiful! A friend of mine often talks about when she and her friends would play out front and the moms would chat on the lawn. A more modern “village”, but one that is still so foreign in our modern garage-dominated society. Thank you for this beautiful post!
    “But if we don’t dip our toes into the pool of vulnerability – risking the chaos and messiness of opening up to those around us – how can we flourish? We expect too much from ourselves, not leaning into the strengths and promises of the group. Yet how can anyone hope to help, if we don’t know there is a need?”
    I love this so much!

    1. I love hearing stories about the village breaking through into our solitary culture – seems to make it more accessible somehow… So glad that you resonate with the ideas – living in a vibrant community is something very close to our (mine and Dave’s) hearts at the moment!

  7. Emma, stopping by from FMF for the first time. Let me just say: I love your blog name! 🙂 I think most of us moms could use that title. I sure can. Your entire post is beautiful. I especially love this: “But if we don’t dip our toes into the pool of vulnerability – risking the chaos and messiness of opening up to those around us – how can we flourish?” Being vulnerable is risky and can bring chaos and messiness. But vulnerable is real. And real is where we really find the life Jesus offers. Thank you! And blessings to you.

    1. So great to meet you, Shauna! Haha the blog name is a bit funny – it was actually something my son said as a joke when he was 2 and it just stuck in my mind… and this was borne! I sure live up to the name at certain points! There is something magical about the risk of vulnerability, hey? Keeps drawing you back, even when it makes you squirm…

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