Last Saturday, my daughter took the ACT exam at a high school in Montgomery County. It was too far to shuffle back and forth so I decided to wait for her and chose a nearby Starbucks to plant myself and work while she took her exam.
I sat just inside the window and looking outside could see a couple of men relaxed and sitting at the outdoor patio tables on the other side of the pane. Asian, middle-aged, reserved, these gentlemen were nursing their coffee in a way that indicated a lengthy stay at the establishment. Not an unusual scene on a Saturday morning as the 9 am hour approached.
I continued my work. The next time I looked up, there were a couple of more men who had joined them. They too had some drink in their hand and had positioned chairs for a leisurely conversation with the first two. As you can imagine, the banter was a little more animated, filled out with chuckles and smiles. Still very low-key.
Another 15 minutes produced a third pair of gentlemen coming for and now contributing to the company forming. I noticed a certain homogeneity of race and age: were they all immigrants from the same country of origin? Did they all speak the same language (couldn’t decipher it through the glass)? Were they all in a similar life stage? All unsubstantiated but likely. The volume of conversation was now understandably raised and you could feel the energy of their camaraderie.
The ACT is a four-hour test. I wasn’t going anywhere that morning. Apparently, neither were they. From time to time, I would look out and check on my view: no watch checks, no body language to signal an imminent departure, no brewing farewells. This group, now six strong, would stay put in this configuration for the next two hours. At least: I had to leave before any of them got up.
I pondered the draw of this group. And I pondered its strength. Was it an organized group? Did it have a name? Was this a weekly, monthly, or daily meeting? Did the numbers change much from meeting to meeting? Was there an agreed upon start time? Or was this just a casual conglomeration of guys who had discovered each other over a series of months and just showed up – no emails, no notifications, just habit.
Either way, I knew why they met. Because in this diverse, transient, politically-charged, ever-changing, ever-challenging Montgomery County world we live in, we cannot survive without community. On the other hand, we can face almost anything with it. These men knew that. It may have never been said, articulated, or even identified. But they knew it. That’s why they showed up.
I hope you have a community you can trust. If not, come this Saturday and join one! SIGN UP HERE
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