To a friend's house the way is never long.
That was a poster that my friend, Mary, had in her kitchen in Calgary. Whenever I was in her house and saw the poster, I reflected on the truth of it. She and I lived at opposite ends of Calgary, but visiting her never felt like a chore. It didn't even feel onerous later, when a visit to her involved that protracted trans-Pacific flight from Melbourne.
I’ve just been wondering why I don't notice the "work" involved in visiting a beloved friend. The answer, for me, is that the reward far exceeds the effort.
In the world of financial investments, this is called ROI (return on investment). I have witnessed this principle again and again in the context of cohousing.
Last night, half a dozen or so members of my community had a difficult discussion. It took a long time for them to work through their issue, and it required tremendous patience. Each person listened, suspended judgement, and parked his/her ego off to one side. Tree Bressen, who facilitated a workshop for us last autumn, refers to this as being of service to the group.
After a lengthy and demanding conversation, my fellow cohos got through their dark tunnel and back into the light.
In one sense, it took a lot of effort for me even to witness this interaction. Yet, in another sense, I thought nothing of it. It doesn’t occur to me to count the cost, because the rewards of the entire enterprise so far outstrip any exertion that I put into it.
Community definitely is one of those phenomena of which it can be said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The ROI that I have received from it is beyond measure.
I also happen to believe that, if anything will enable us humans to meet our challenges, it will be community, which I view as just another word for love.