About 6 weeks ago, I started writing a newsletter article on the topic of community. I wrote about what community meant to me when I was a member of the Episcopal Church, what it was like when I realized I didn’t believe the things I’d learned and believed since birth and didn’t attend that Church any longer. I thought about what it was like as a solitary Pagan, and how it’s been since experiencing the community I have found in Church of the Earth.
An awful lot has changed in those 6 weeks and I’ve had to find a new way of maintaining that sense of community. I don’t much care for it and I miss my in person—hugging and non-hugging—community, but I’m learning that I can still create community during this time of social and physical distancing that we’re practicing during pandemic.
What is a community?
The dictionary definition states that a community is a group of people who share something in common. There are different types—communities where people share the same interests, people gathering together to bring about change, people who are brought together by geographic boundaries, people in the same profession or who undertake the same activities, and people brought together by circumstance.
Church of the Earth is a community where we share similar beliefs (similar but not exactly the same because we each follow our own spiritual path and not a prescribed one), we definitely gather to bring about change and undertake similar activities, we live in the same geographic area, and we come together to celebrate events we find significant.
Right now, we’re having to create community a bit more purposefully than we may have in the recent past. We can’t gather at Lake Wheeler or Umstead Park, or at a coffee shop or restaurant. Those of us who don’t like to talk on the phone are having to talk on the phone. Some of us have created cards or written letters and mailed them for the first time in years. We are learning how to make all the online meeting tools work so we can see and talk to those we love. We’re using social media and email more frequently. We talk to our neighbors across the yard or across the street—yelling a bit so we can understand each other (and telling our dogs they really don’t need to bark about it). School and work are continuing online for many. We’re playing RPGs and board games and taking art lessons and piano lessons online.
For me, having the internet and online tools has been a truly wonderful thing and I’m grateful we live in this age and have it available to us. It’s helping me continue to build community.
Church of the Earth’s Council, led this year by Dodde, have traded emails and met on Zoom, and we’ve come up with a few different ways to keep our community going while we are physically distant. Here are some ways you can connect with each other right now.
Facebook: Council members are posting questions and inviting conversation about all sorts of topics. It’s worth looking at the older conversations—there’s some great information and ideas out there.
Zoom: Our fearless Book Club has already held one online meeting, and the second one has been scheduled. We will be adding more meetings and events to be held online this month. Rituals of the sort we’re all used to attending don’t translate well to this format, but we’re working on several other ideas. We’ll still post notices for them on Meetup and Facebook as we have in the past.
This is a difficult time for all of us, but we can do it. Yes, we’ll all be changed in ways we probably can’t even imagine. But we’ll gather again in the parks, cast our Circles, celebrate our Sabbats and Esbats under the sun and the moon, and those of us who are huggers will catch up on all those that we’ve missed. I’m thinking an exceptional Pagans In The Park Party will be in order!
In the meantime, reach out via social media, join us at an online meeting, take a walk in your neighborhood and see what’s blooming or which birds have returned to build nests, and share your experiences. Our Church of the Earth Community is still here—just not within hugging distance.
Be safe, be grounded, be blessed.
PS: Fair warning—there will be hugs when this is all over!