Sunday, October 13, 2013


As we traveled the world for the past 16 months, we have found ourselves immersed in a variety of new and interesting communities.  If one describes community as a group of individuals with shared interests, values, and goals, then the geographic boundaries of place become less important than time.    The community of long term travelers is very different than the community of vacationers.  Those who choose to couchsurf or stay in hostels and homestays are unlike people who stay primarily in resorts.   Each country and region within countries had communities of people to teach us lessons about their lives and dreams, aspirations and fears.  While we were often engaging with individuals who supported tourism, we ventured into other elements of distant societies.  We attended church with people, sat down and shared food with natives willing to tell us about their lives, celebrated holidays with families and new friends.  We also, tentatively at first, entered into the global social media community of blogs, Facebook, Pinterest , Thorntree and Tripadvisor. 

So imagine our surprise to find that the most profound lessons we were to learn about community would be back where we started, in Gunnison, Colorado.  In our previous blog posting, “Push Pause”, we mentioned how humbled we were by the offers of assistance that emerged when people learned that we were going to stay while Sally had surgery.  The degree to which individuals opened not only their homes, but their hearts to us, provided the elixir of healing we needed for both Sally’s recovery from surgery and for the weariness that emerges from living from a backpack for a year.  

We realize that coming back to Gunnison reminds us of the first decade of our 23 year relationship.  During much of that decade, we faced the challenge of distance.  It was not uncommon for more than 1,500 miles to separate us for weeks or months at a time.  For us, the distance aspect of our emerging partnership strengthened our bonds.  We experienced the intense joy reunification brought every month or so.  We reveled in the excitement of being present with the person we loved. We had stories of growth, painful and adventurous, to share with each other. And we were keenly aware of the significance of each precious second of time together, knowing that our trajectories would again separate us in the next few days or weeks. 
 Our past few weeks in Gunnison have taken us back to the pleasure and challenge of those distant relationship years.  We are keenly present with friends with whom we often had insufficient time when we worked within our community.  There is a hunger to learn about their growth, painful or adventurous, as well as their hopes, dreams and aspirations.  We have come to recognize the enormous number of individuals living in one place for almost 20 years brings into lives.  We knew, in some abstract way, that we loved this place and people; however, returning from a long journey with the intent of leaving again, has demonstrated the bonds that we share with this community now and forever.  Much like our reunification with each other during our first decade, we know with increasing certainty the community of this special high mountain valley has our hearts.   It is the type of place that comes together in challenging times, as we witnessed when a group of special teens put on a benefit concert raising funds for families requiring assistance from our local hospital’s oncology department.  While we have seen markets in every corner of the globe, none are as sweet as the dozen or so booths of our Saturday farmers’ market where we have been greeted like long lost friends.   We will enjoy exploring new communities and places during the next months of our lives, but it will be Gunnison that we look toward as the place to become rejuvenated as we continue to learn with humility and to give with grace.

Images are of two of our favorite Gunnison community members, Kathleen Kinkema and Rogene McKiernan, Raphael Tomany playing at a benefit for Gunnison's Oncology Department, and Matt from Thistle Whistle Farm at the Gunnison Farmers' Market.  Posted in Gunnison, CO.

1 comment:

  1. Great post on the meaningfulness of community. I'm glad you had a bit of time to feel renewed. Wasn't Raphael amazing? I'm so sad his sound system was giving him a hard time!