The Importance of Community
The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members. ~ Coretta Scott King
There are times when we all feel alone, times when we feel like no one cares about us. We all have these moments, sometimes they are reality but most often they are not, because we all have communities we belong to in our life. Our families are a form of community, our friends form a community around us but there are others. One of the things I talk about extensively in my book is the hiking community that exists around the Appalachian Trail.
On the Appalachian Trail you encounter an amazing array of people related to the trail. There are the hikers of course and all of the various forms they come in. There are thru-hikers, people hoping to complete the whole trail in one continuous hike. There are also section-hikers (the toughest of the breed) people doing the whole trail over a number of years. There are also day hikers, which I’d bet we’ve all been at one time or another. But there’s a broader community, there are the family members of hikers, friends, the people who run business around the trail, hostel and hotel owners, gear shop owners and others. There are also trail angels, people who help and support hikers out of the goodness of their hearts.
The thing you come to realize when you attempt a thru-hike is just how many people belong to that community, that family of support if you will. You find it in so many different ways, boxes from friends and family, a ride into town, finding a cache of water and snacks when you turn a bend on the trail. The kindnesses are amazing on the trail, from folks providing trail magic at road crossings to people who will actually take you into their home, feed you and give you a place to stay. The community around the Appalachian Trail is truly amazing and there are similar communities around most major hiking trails. It was encountering this community that was one of the most positive experiences I had on the trail.
I have been reminded of how amazing this community is once again today, albeit for a not so great reason. I found out last night a friend, a fellow 2015 AT Hiker, a really great guy who is hiking the PCT is the subject of an active rescue in the mountains of Washington. He had come through town and visited me this summer and has walked over 2500 miles on the trail in one of the toughest seasons on the PCT in a very long time. He’s a great kid, an experienced hiker, he’s got the right gear, everything is in place for this story to be one with a happy ending. But those of us who do these sorts of adventures know how tenuous things can truly be on a trail, so we’re all hopeful, and a little bit afraid. But watching this community mobilize, communicate, prop each other up and try and support his family has made me happy tonight in spite of the situation.
We know that happiness depends mostly on ourselves but part of what we need to do is to work ourselves into communities that will support and help us be happy. I’m proud and happy to be part of the hiking community, I hope you have found one that helps you be happy as well, I hope that if nothing else being tied into the Ministry of Happiness community can help in some small way and help you have a happy day my friends.
~ Rev Kane
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