• Dr Margi Brown Ash

Friendship, community and connection

Its slightly over thirty years since my first baby was born. This week my first baby delivered her first baby...the only birth that I have witnessed first hand apart from my own four children. It has made me deeply reflective and has invited me to examine the meaning of my life.

After the last month of preparing and then helping this wondrous new baby into the world, I am aware of the power of family, of relationship and the importance of transitional times in our lives. With contemplation we notice the changes within ourselves. We cannot experience the birth of a new life without wondering what it is to live. Who are we and how do we change when profound things happen to us?

To invite my first grandchild into my world is a wondrous thing, to think of her just before I fall asleep, or to remember her when I see something beautiful, to imagine her when I hear a certain piece of music, these moments are magical.

What do we want for our next generation? It is so easy to say a peaceful world but we need more than peace. We need community. One of my dear friends visited yesterday to meet the baby for the first time and she talked about the importance of community. I am reminded that "it takes a village to raise a child" and I think yes, the community is the most important ingredient when it comes to creating a healthy environment. And another dear friend and her daughter (my god daughter) visited today lugging a huge wooden dolls house "I may have just purchased a dolls house for the baby!" she texts as a warning. It is beautifully detailed, made with love.

My friends know what it is to belong. They understand the importance of belonging, of place, of ritual, of mythology and of extended family. We do not need words, rather we look at each other, smile, it is enough. We have journeyed for decades together despite living in separate states.

Community. And that community can be many places, anywhere we feel we can be in a hospital ward, holding a brand new baby while her new mother rests. It can be in a wool shop, choosing the right wool to make a blanket of granny squares, one for every day of the baby's first year. It can be in a grocery line, buying rich dark chocolate for those waiting at home. It can be a hot cup of peppermint tea or a lady grey. It can hugging a teddy bear while you wait for someone you love to return home.

Do we 'invest'enough in our communities? Do we expect communities 'just to happen'? To grow community requires us to risk reaching out. To offer ideas and to follow through. To turn up when we don't feel like turning up. To open our doors when we just want to hide away. To deeply listen to people's stories and how they see their world.

If we can do these things, then maybe community can 'just happen'...and relationships remain firm across the decades regardless of physical space.