The word "connection" has been coming up a lot lately, so I think it's worth examining.
In a prior post, I mentioned how connection is important, and that there would be a follow-up about that. I guess this is that post (though I suspect it will be one of many).
What does connection mean to you?I looked it up in the dictionary, and there are way too many definitions to count, so I'll just go with some thoughts I have about it. To me, connection is allowing ourselves to be in a relationship with someone, whether it be with people or with God. Additionally, some people connect with nature, feeling at peace when hiking, for instance, or when working with animals.
That sense of connection is part of what makes us human. We have to let down our guard in order to truly connect with someone. In letting down that guard, we give, and we receive. We interact. We listen, and someone listens to us. We heal and we help heal others. We all need that as human beings, even if we don't realize it.
How are you connecting with people? Take some time today to think about whether you need more connection in your life and how you can go about it.
Today I'll talk about one way: community outreach and volunteering.
During a recent snow day, I had a rare moment of being able to watch daytime TV, and saw a news piece on one of the weekday morning shows. It was about a man who was connecting with his community in a very real way: he is an ex-convict who lives in Syracuse, NY, and is giving back by providing meals to the homeless. Not only is he, personally, giving back, but he is mobilizing members of his local community to help. He is who inspired today's post.
People volunteer all the time, right? Some do it out of the goodness of their hearts, or it makes them feel good to help others. Some do it because they have to, whether it's community service or through a school/church that organized a volunteer day. But this guy does it because he never wants to go back to where he was. If you watch the video, you can tell: he sees the people he helps as human, he looks them in the eye, he connects with them. Raise your hand if you've ever avoided looking in the eyes of a homeless person on the street. Are you afraid of connecting? Or is it something else? The issue of homelessness is pretty complicated, but people are complicated.
Can you imagine what it's like to be homeless, to potentially have people be afraid of you, to potentially be ostracized, to not have anywhere you belong, but to have someone like Al-Amin Muhammad come round to see you, feed you, look you in the eye, and treat you like you're human? THAT is true connection, to me.
And I see something else happening, here, too: Al-Amin Muhammad is also connecting other people in the community with the homeless. The homeless are no longer faceless. By starting Sandwich Saturdays and calling for volunteers on Facebook, he meets new people, gets the message out even more, and before you know it, it's a ripple effect. It's like tossing a pebble into the middle of a pond and watching concentric rings ripple outwards: it starts with one person, then the next, then the next, until there is a united community of people all working together to help those who are in need.
It starts with ONE person.
I think it's pretty darn spiffy how that works.
Look, don't take my word for it. Check out the press he's getting here and here. I tried to find the TV news clip I saw, but so far, no go. If I do, I'll update.
But more than that, I invite you to connect with others in your community. I don't necessarily mean volunteer your time, though that is a great way to do it. You could join a book club or a knitting group. You could start up a workout group at your gym, or a study group at your school.
Don't isolate; CONNECT.
(Hey, it's worth making a side note here: I always recommend if you want to help a charity to vet them through Charity Watch, Charity Navigator, or some other service that independently grades charities on how well they use their funds.)
Check back again for future posts on connection. This is a topic I could go on about! Comment below and let me know: how we can make sure we connect with others? Do you like to volunteer, and if so, why? I look forward to your thoughts.
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