Reader Writes, September 2017
The business wheels of Kington Town Council often grind slowly and tortuously, but the work is done and thanks to our new Town Clerk, Liz Kelso, it will be done efficiently and accountably. We are lucky to have her! We had a long and occasionally frustrating discussion on the provision of new play equipment and surfaces on the Rec.. Disentangling suppliers, contractors, specs and quotes isn't simple. So is it worth it? A resounding yes, even though money is hard to find and there are so many calls on limited resources. In a word, the reason is community. It is at the very centre of all we have.
In Brexit Britain there will be some tough adjustments ahead. A high economic tide floats us all, but we can expect some seasons of mud-banks and employment strandings. No point in wringing our hands; but we do have to anticipate and plan. Community, surely, must be a vital uncountable resource that we need to support and cherish. For that reason we all think it worth spending money on renewing the play area. There in the heart of the town is a place where people of all ages walk, exercise dogs, chat, play cricket, sit by the Arrow on summer nights, watch children playing and shouting with delight.
In human terms it's easy to see why Homo sapiens is such a social creature. We spent many many millennia cooperating in family and clan groups to defeat carnivorous beasts, long winters, a food calendar of glut and hunger. It seems that our brains and eyes and hands, together with cooperation and language, helped us thrive and master our environment. Perhaps we became too successful. Heated houses, the combustion engine and social media can isolate us and contribute to an epidemic of loneliness and alienation. We are made for community and cooperation; we must nurture them and safeguard them.
It shouldn't be surprising to find a God-angle on this. Community sideways and communion upwards form an enduring spiritual framework for our lives, personally and communally. The story of Jesus and Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead, might give a glimpse of this in our Lord's life. Why was Lazarus, an adult, apparently still living at home with his 2 sisters, Mary and Martha? And how notable that Jesus loved him and must have made time to get to know this tight little family group so well. It seems likely that Lazarus was disabled in some way and in the care of his sisters; maybe he was psychiatricaly ill or depressed. We only know that this man was deeply loved by his sisters and by his friend, our Lord. Jesus shows us how to overcome our stifling collective shyness and make friends with the strangers in our midst. He spent time with them; he laughed, he wept, he talked and sat around.
When I went to have a look at the play equipment on the Rec one evening I found Erica, a Hungarian, with her daughter Szara happily playing after a busy day. Ken had emptied the bins and all was neat and tidy, if a little well worn. Woody had been strimming along the bank of the Arrow. Dogs of many indistinguishable breeds enjoyed the open space. A heron flew over heavily, taking a short cut over Ridgebourne to the Back Brook. Thank you Lord for diversity and community; we need it!