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  • Jesse Williams, LPC-MHSP

The Importance of Community

Establishing community. Being a part of community. Connecting with community. Doing stuff with community.

We say and hear these things-- but how often to we stop to truly consider and reflect on the importance of community within our lives?

Today (the day I'm writing this), I had the honor of going on a group hike up to Rocky Top in the GSMNP, and it was a great day of introductions, interactions, connection, and general goofiness. On the way down, I had a moment that prompted silent reflection, causing me to consider the importance of community within my own life. We were a group of hikers making our way down this relatively steep trail, and as the group went around a curve in the trail, I caught a glimpse of the full line of hikers. Everyone wearing the Tennessee orange t-shirts. Everyone chit-chatting. A unison of hiking poles and packs; orange shirts and conversation. Everyone heading down the mountain together. The same moment. The same trail. Such a simple yet profound second in time. Together. And it yet hit me: this is community.

My heart felt connected and truly filled in this moment. To be a part of this hiking group. To be a part of the greater hiker culture in the GSMNP. To be a part of the world as I know it. To be a part of community.

And it reminded me of an archetype I've been taking some time to connect to: the archetype of The Lover. It also could be called the archetype of Unity or Heart. The Lover is a fairly straight forward archetype: it's about bringing more love, more connection, more expansion, more awe, more loyalty, more devotion, and more unconditional acceptance into life.

Many people think of the idea of The Lover as someone who falls in love with a specific individual and enters into a conventional relationship. But when I talk about the archetype of The Lover--this greater idea of The Lover that crosses cultures and societies-- I'm talking about a bigger picture idea. It's much larger than a singular relationship. I'm talking about an actual approach to life. I'm talking about a life of connection and awe and acceptance and, yeah, love. Not just for one person. A greater love and acceptance and appreciation that encompasses so many people and things within our lives. A greater love that brings richness and fullness to our lives.

It makes our hearts feel warm and fuzzy and connected and truly filled.

And it's about noticing where it is that you feel The Lover archetype. Sure, we'll never feel it in all things-- that's not how life is. I'm not suggesting a Pollyanna-ish approach to life where everything is loved and everyone is your favorite person. There will inevitably be energies that rub us the wrong way, people that feel toxic to us, situations that we would rather not engage in. It's not about those pieces of life-- let other archetypal energy deal with those! It's about the places and situations that you do feel connection. The places and situations where you do feel a sense of place and acceptance.

And that's the place I found myself today: a place where a group of diverse hikers were walking down a hiking trail in a picture of unity, acceptance, care, and connection. It was a group of people from various walks of life, with different styles of jobs and a wide range of ages and personalities. Yet everyone came together for a singular task.

And there's power in that. There's potential in that. There's meaning in that.

And this happens all around us. It's not limited to group hikes. We see it at work. In volunteering opportunities. In churches. Family gatherings. Schools. Groups of friends. Neighborhoods. Sports teams. The Lover archetype surrounds us, while connecting us and expanding our horizons. Exposing us to new approaches to life. And calling us to the sense of community.

The question is this: where is your community? Where do you feel that sense of connection and expansion? Where do you feel accepted and appreciated?

And if you come up empty-handed or you feel disconnected, take some time today to explore options for how to make that connection and community within your own life. It's there. It's all around us. Sometimes we just have to figure out where it is. And sometimes you find it in places you weren't expecting. Like in a difficult work setting. Or during a community tragedy. Or in a chance meeting of friends and acquaintances. Or at a random event.

Or on a hiking trail, in the way I experienced it today. Where I saw community, and I felt connection. And that's something for all of us to constantly strive for. To find that community around us. To find The Lover archetypal energy in our lives. To find the connection and acceptance within our hearts. Because no one is alone. We're all in this together.


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