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PARKER: Finding community out of town

Image Credit: Compilation/Jennifer Stahn
May 18, 2015 - 8:43 AM

As far as any of my friends or colleagues are concerned, this long weekend I have been MIA. I haven’t returned texts, haven’t responded to invites, haven’t even emoji’d in response to Instagram comments — and that’s rare.

You see, every May long weekend my church choir boards a chartered bus and heads deep into the BC interior to sing about Jesus at a United church chosen at random. Granted, this year I didn’t take the bus, but I’m here none-the-less, sitting lake-side in Salmon Arm, surrounded by a group of people who have little in common apart from the fact we like to drink BC red and sing about God.

I joined the choir when I was 19 for a multitude of reasons — namely because my high school choir teacher was married to the director and I wanted to live out my glory days as long as possible — even if that meant I had to go to church on Sunday mornings. Honestly, for a preacher’s daughter I was abnormally reluctant.

The choir was something I didn’t expect to become a part of me. What 20- something turns down dates on Thursday night because she has to go and sing Chris Tomlin songs?

Well, it turned out to be this girl.

Little did I know when I joined the choir just how connected to this group of people I was about to become. Not only would my mother end up working for the church (and subsequently, I would end up being ‘volun-told’ countless times for the next 10 years), as it turns out, I would marry the son of the director and that previously mentioned high school teacher would become my father-in-law.

When you find a place you click, you just click.

With Facebook and Instagram and Twitter swirling around us at all times these days, it’s hard to ever feel like we aren’t connected at all times, but yet we still suffer loneliness like it’s going out of style. We crave community. We crave a home where we are accepted as we come, not as we intentionally present ourselves. We crave a space where we don’t have to use the rule of thirds to frame a picture and where it’s OK to drool in your sleep.

I had an opportunity this weekend to speak to the nature of real community with some of the amazing people I share my Thursday nights with. Of course, the reason we seek refuge in this group ranges from “I like all the liquor,” to “I wanted to feel like I was a part of a family again,” but the underlying truth behind all of our answers, God aside, is that we sing in our church choir because we feel loved here.

Feeling like we belong in a real community isn’t something that disappears because we find someone to share our life with. It isn’t something that we lose desire for when we have one close friend that gets us. Being part of a community is something we seek no matter how many followers we have and how many people like our Facebook statuses.

It isn’t about individual connections, it’s about family. When you belong to a group of people who understand you as being the imperfect person you are, you don’t have to get along all the time. You don’t even have to like each other — it’s about more than that. It’s about recognizing the connectedness that has existed between us all for so much longer than it took Facebook to assure us we had mutual friends.

So yeah, this past weekend I was away with my church choir and I’m not ashamed. We still Instagram everything that looks pretty, we just don’t need to hide the ugly in order to do so.

— Andria Parker is a 20-something blogger from Kamloops

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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