I’m OK alone.
I thought this as I was waiting for my first (of many, let’s hope!) interview of the job search process in a new town. OK, it was kind of exciting to have that first one be in Washington, DC – even if it was just a recruiting agency. I was early for the interview – after mistiming my drive, parking and Metro ride into DC – and luckily there is a Starbucks literally on just about every block. I had a coffee, read the Washington Post and thought…it is really noisy in this coffee shop but I’m OK alone.
Later in that same week I do admit that I teared up when the waiter at Friendly’s offered me a kind word. I found myself shakily returning smiles from strangers at the supermarket. Do we ever truly appreciate the kindness of strangers until we need it ourselves? I noticed attending Mass at strange churches week after week was an unexpected loneliness. Sometimes, when I took long walks I had a strange sense of displacement. It seemed to me that this is not where my footsteps should be taking me. Of, course that thought assumed that I knew where I was going and, believe me, that is not generally the case these days. But, really, I’m OK alone.
I can search or sit for hours in a Library…and I am. It feels familiar to be surrounded by books and ideas and curiosity; even if it is very strange not to be in my Library where I knew where every book lives. Libraries are universal, everyone is welcome and ideas live. No one is alone in a Library, but it is OK to be alone in a Library.
I feel safe in Libraries, but my thoughts today turn to that fateful Library in Columbine High School where, ten years ago today, people died. Doug Johnson, Librarian and author of Blue Skunk Blog, writes eloquently about Columbine and Community today. He notes that one of the most important roles of educators and Librarians is to create communities for young people. I am most proud of the fact that the Library I had a small part in building at my high school was a community for students and teachers and parents and community members.
I am OK alone…but I am better for the community I build and belong to. My good friend Sr. Linda often discussed the importance of community to Catholics when I would be frustrated about the Church. She would ask me to remember that the “Church” is not Rome, nor the power of the priests. It is the community of catholics defined as including or concerning all humankind; universal.
I need to find that community here in this new home, new town, new church, new job, and these new libraries that I now find myself. I may have taken a first step this weekend. My husband and I attended Mass at the Church of the Nativity in Burke, VA. It was a comfortable, welcoming parish. The priest spoke of a book in his homily – Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza.The music was beautiful. I was reminded that while it is OK to alone…it is better to be in a community.