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How A Community Loves #ardenpiper

photo courtesy of Abigail Washington
Recently, I have truly realized how blessed my family is to have become part of this community of people who share zipcodes and drive-thrus and festivals and one another’s lives in a way that means more than just simple local residence.

An already emotionally heightened time of change, this past month has reminded me over and over that we are only gifted one day at a time.  In May’s first few weeks, I was part of those who strove to bring comfort when sorrow came.  Then, in its last, I was on the receiving end of that comfort when my husband was hospitalized for a heart condition.  Through it all, I saw this community love one another in amazing ways. may define community as a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage. But it takes more than a physical location to compel us to hold one another when tragedy abounds.  It takes more than a sharing of government to bring us to our knees so that those mourning might be covered over in unceasing prayer.  It takes more than cultural heritage to bring meals after births and sickness and deaths or to rock babies in a nursery so parents can attend another baby’s funeral.

For me, the past few weeks have proven that community happens when a simple ordinary act becomes an extraordinary act of love.

I felt this in the hospital when people showed up to simply sit or buy me a cup of coffee and talk about anything besides what was happening.  But the most amazing act of community I have seen happened on the morning of Arden Washington’s funeral when the word went out we should paint our nails blue in memory of her beautiful blue eyes. Social media picked up the feed, and our little community of mothers loving one another spread all over this county and beyond.  It was so simple.  Blue nail polish, that’s all.  But it was a tangible communication of love and support.  It was evidence of community.

That night, I gathered my daughters close and painted nails and toes a shade of Caribbean blue. I let them stay up past bedtime, and we whispered prayers for our friends and talked about how Arden’s blue eyes are looking at Jesus now.

Sometimes there are no words.  For days, I had struggled to find some elusive phrase to offer comfort, but in the end, there were none.  What there was, instead, was a bottle of blue polish and a community that loves.

Sometimes community is a neighbor who cuts the grass when you can’t. Sometimes it’s extra car seats so there’s room for just one more.  Sometimes it’s the ER doctor who hugs you and knows your name because you taught his children. Sometimes it’s the local florist who knows exactly the perfect shade of pink hydrangea to send.

Sometimes it is one simple shared act of extraordinary love.

This post originally appeared in my community column on June 7, 2013 in The Northeast Georgian.