"Insects tatooing my skin." When the surroundings morph into who you are today and who you deeply want to become, that's community. "Father holding my hand." Children reach out their hands, instinctively, knowing that it makes little sense to walk unaccompanied. Children reach out their hands, confident that they will be grasped and held, because that's what you do when you love. That's community.
I find that many of us seeking community are yearning for answers to unfilled childhood hands outstretched; outstretched in the earnest honesty that 5-year-olds have, that 15-year-olds smirk at, that 20- or 25- or 30-year-olds look back on with longing.
There are places where our surroundings become infused and confused with our souls, and that's community. When our sense of modesty is supplanted by the courage to reach out our hands, daring to believe that someone will grasp on and hold.
But community isn't forced. It's isn't created because you read the recipe in a book and it isn't maintained because you followed the rules. Community grows on collective vulnerability, reinforced by the presence of others taking that same plunge of faith.
So where's community? It probably starts with the children, because they don't yet know that being exactly who they are is something to be ashamed of. It grows when spirit is accessed, through song or common interest, through faith or common strife, through journeying or reckless abandon. Community is found when you stop trying and start letting, when you stop thinking and start feeling, and when it comes, you'll know. So if it's the gospel choir that lifts your soul, let it. Or if it's a sunny spring morning planting cabbage behind gleaners, let it. If it's exploring the city by getting lost on purpose, let it. Community sneaks into vibrant existence when you least expect it-- after 10 hours of stomping cob, for instance.