My friend, Sharon’s birthday was a success. It was rather warm when I arrived in Rockville, Utah, 105 degrees F. Whoa, that is more than hot. I know, I know, it’s a dry heat—yet I believe anything over 90 degrees is hot.
I am always delighted to connect with this family. Tori, Sharon’s daughter, and I have not seen each other in many years. It was fun to reconnect with her. It was almost like we had never been apart. This is family. Everyone goes their own way as they grow into adulthood yet when they have reunited once again, everyone picks up where they left off. I am honored to be even a distant part of this family.
The day of the party started out hot, yet as the time for the party drew close the clouds came in, there was rain and then it was cool and lovely to be outside under a pavilion to celebrate this 90-year event. There was music and food and greetings of friends who, due to Covid, may have not seen each other in a while. A chair was set at the entrance for Sharon to sit in and greet and be greeted by the revelers. My favorite photos are of Sharon reaching out with open arms to greet each guest as they arrived.
There is delight and warmth and welcome in those open arms. These arms are not just to greet those with like minds and like ideals. These are truly the open arms of embracing community. Not all the people at Sharon’s birthday party believe like her. Not all of them voted one way. Not all of them are intimate in friendship with each other. Yet, in this small town, population of approximately 245, there is a sense of community that is often lost in larger urban settings. They know that they have to get along to some degree to make their small town work. During Covid, they knew they had to rely on each other to make their sheltering in place work. Smaller towns recognize the need for a sense of community. It is a survival mechanism.
Over the past several years I believe that we as a nation have withdrawn into our familiars. We have forgotten how to reach out to each other and embrace despite differences in religion, political beliefs, the color of one’s skin, and more. Embracing differences may be more work but the rewards are, well, more rewarding. Community can only work if we embrace everyone.
Covid, or “The Great Pause”, I believe has offered an opportunity for people to function as a richer community. People have been reaching out, helping others. I have been the recipient of others’ embraces. I was welcomed by friends to stay with them for the greater part of last year. Our friendship has strengthened and we have become family. Others have opened their homes for me. Strangers have left supplies at my door. People have phoned or emailed to make sure this solo person was doing fine.
If I take the time to reach out to those that believe or do things differently, my life will be richer and fuller. I will learn new things and expand the world that I live in. I want to know that I don’t have to be stuck. I want to know that my arms can always reach out and embrace the new, the unknown. I also want to recognize when other arms are reaching towards me. Part of healing the divide of this nation, at the moment, may be remembering to open our arms and embrace everyone.
I am slowly returning to the Northwest. I am keeping my arms wide open to embrace people and experiences and remember this valuable lesson.