My childhood and teenage years were spent in a 3rd world country. I witnessed first hand what a village was. It was a community. A community of family, of neighbors, who looked out for one another. A grandmother who would watch the smaller children while the others were herding the animals. A mother correcting another woman's child when his own mother's missed the misbehavior. A group of women who would come together and rebuild a hut what had washed away in the previous night's storm. No one receiving a hand out, each one giving and taking alike. A community of people who would band together and protect what was theirs.
I'm slowly learning that this concept has its place in 1st world cultures as well. We've never lived one place long enough for that to sink in. Until now.
Our village is our church family. Though small, they are mighty. When the wee girl was a newborn and, with a husband working midnights I often times felt like a single parent, I knew that all I had to do was get myself and my children to the church--a lot of times, just to the parking lot--and someone would be there to take one. If my daughter was sleeping in my arms, someone else would take my son to his classroom. The few times I have been either sick or injured, a friend has come to pick my children up and take them to church, feed them and bring them back home. Giving me a few precious hours to rest.
Earlier this month, following a couple days of heavy rain, the main drain from our house started backing up again. Raw sewage filling up our downstair's bathtub. Nothing we did fixed it. And our paychecks weren't going to stretch far enough to cover a professional to come fix it either. Our pastor, who knows his way around plumbing, did not ask if he could help. He simply informed us what the plan of action would be. He and his eldest son showed up with a rented backhoe and worked well into the night as they dug out the entire length of 80-year-old root infested and broken cast iron pipe and installed new, root resistant PVC pipe. We will be paying him for supplies and labor. However, I know for certain he will not charge us what he should.
Our village is our work family. For both of us. We've been a part of the preschool family for four years now and some of the amazing women I now work with are among my dearest friends. We come from different backgrounds, different beliefs, but we're a band of warriors who have each others' backs. My boss has informed me that any time I need to let our daughter stay longer with the "after school" gang, they will be more than happy to have her. I also know my daughter loves staying later with her friends which makes the decision free of "mommy guilt." Just as my son did when we were in the long process of obtaining our daughter's arthritis diagnosis. On the rare occasions when one of us has to stay home with a sick child, everyone merely stretches just a little more to cover for us.
My husband's work community is no different. They're a tight band, these crazy bomb guys. Relationships we formed with the same group while still active duty remain strong to this day.
Our village is the VA. From the very beginning my husband has been looked after, cared for and cared about by the overworked and far underpaid staff at our veteran's hospital. They have gone above and beyond what they need to do to get him well and whole again.
Our village is our world wide network of friends. Social media can be a pretty amazing thing. We simply have to choose to use it for Good and not for Evil. Not too long ago I was alone one evening while himself was at work, worried about our wee girl who had been dealing with an arthritis flare up and possibly more joints were being effected by the disease. I sat down and simply wrote, "There's a wee girl sleeping upstairs who could use some warm thoughts and prayers right about now." I was completely and utterly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of responses I received. Friends and family from all over the world reassuring me that she was constantly in their prayers. Positive words from friends who would rather not pray. Words of comfort. Words of peace.
My village is this blog. Or rather, the friends I've met through it. There are wonderful, amazing people I've met over the years I've been here sharing my tangled thoughts and scribbles. I've never met them face to face. But we are all there for each other--sharing the laughter, the tears, the joy and the heartaches.
I'm learning how to be a part of all of this. I'm learning, not just to ask for help, but to also accept the help offered.
Our village is our family. I would not make it though this journey without them. That doesn't make me weak. It makes me stronger.