In May of this year, my oldest nephew graduated from high school. It was one of those moments when I realized why all of my family still thinks of me as a 12 -year-old… because sometimes, no matter how much we grow up, people freeze in time in our minds. My nephew is still stuck in my memories as a little dude who would sing Blue Suede Shoes with me and make me read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie at least 15 times in a row.
Even at 18, when I ask him if he knows how much I love him, he’ll respond with, “Around the world and back, Aunt Sara.” And he says it with the same certainty he did when he was three. Knowing how I love him, you can imagine how much I wanted to be there to celebrate his accomplishment.
But I couldn’t be. I was here. As always.
There was a community of people around him, but I wasn’t one of them.
When my family was taking photos at his party, my mom and sisters posed for this photo:
but it was so hard for them to do. My sister Laura wasn’t sure they should. My mom said it just didn’t feel right to have one missing. My sister Janette, who has way too much confidence in me, convinced them both that I could Photoshop myself into the picture so it would seem like I was there.
I, of course, couldn’t. But I also didn’t think I should. I think there comes a time when we need to make sure we aren’t longing instead of living.
The truth is, I wasn’t there. Photoshopping myself into the photo wouldn’t have been reality. And the reality is, even though I wasn’t physically there, physically in the photo, it doesn’t mean I’m not still a part of their community.
When I think of community, I think of Matthew 18:20 when Jesus said, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” To me, the part that stands out is that they are gathered in His name.
The people I love, the people who are in the community of my heart, are those who are gathered with God in their hearts. Because we all share that common bond of love and belief, we are all tied together whether we are physically together or not.
I thought of that as I looked at the photo of my beautiful mom and sisters… and they are my community. I think of it as friends online, who I will most likely never meet, share their lives and hearts with me… and they are my community. I think of it as friends take me along in their everyday lives with video, or take photos during their vacations just so I can get a glimpse of what they see… and they are my community.
I thought of it as I was once again separate from my family as they gathered for my dad’s funeral, as I watched and loved them all from my computer screen here in my condo. I am always going to be physically separated from the rest of the world. I am always going to be isolated and homebound here in my condo.
But I don’t have to be without community. I don’t have to choose longing instead of living. Because we are gathered in His name, because we love and believe with hearts that love God more than ourselves, we are a community. A living, breathing community who has learned how to share our lives over any distance.
Jesus told us to do this life together, as a community. And because of Him, there are no boundaries.
There is only the common bond of belief and love.
By: Sara Frankl, Gitzen Girl