This is a topic that some of my friends in our parish's young adult group have been trying to find solutions to. Often, events are planned by single people, and geared towards their schedules. However, these activities are often compatible with the lives and schedules of married young adults who have children. I've noticed that many of my "married with kids" friends do not know my "single friends," and I think that's unfortunate because they are all lovely people! There are a variety of ways to work in this area (creating more of a diversity of activities, providing childcare, etc.) and I think it's important that we explore the options and try new things.
Stay-at-home dads and working moms.I've only recently started thinking about this, as I've started spending more time at the library's toddler events and meeting more people. How do I, as a stay-at-home-mom, build community with full-time working moms? I got to meet a couple ladies this summer who are teachers, and they were fantastic people...but when the school year started, they went back to their jobs. I know that the schedule differences are vast, but I wish something could be done to more naturally bring working and stay-at-home moms together so that we could get to know each other. I have so much to learn from working moms (plus, all the ones I've met have been fabulous people!), but it's challenging to meet and get to know them since most mom-and-tot activities are geared towards stay-at-home moms. Another thing I want to bring up is the reality of stay-at-home dads. I recently met a man who stays at home with his daughter part-time, and I think it's so cool that he does that. But, where's his community? While us ladies can make small talk with a stay-at-home dad, we just can't relate to him in the way that a man can, because we're women-we've had very different experiences of parenthood physically and emotionally! I know there must be more stay-at-home dads out there, and I wonder if they have the sort of community that stay-at-home moms have. If they don't, I think it'd be great if somehow this gap is bridged and community is formed.
The wide array of racial issues.It's no secret that there is lots of discord surrounding race in our country. And I'm not going to pretend to have the answers or have the perfect response to all the problems we face. I have been trying to become more aware of the perspectives that different individuals have, and I have been finding that it's so important to remember that many people are affected by racial issues-and that the local news sources only focus on certain issues and racial groups. For example, about a year ago, I met a woman who is very proud of her Native American heritage. She was quick to tell me that she and other Native Americans often have negative experiences where race is concerned. Yet, news sources don't often focus on their issues, but instead highlight issues that surround other groups and minorities-and she felt bitterness and hurt by this disregard. I thought it was really eye-opening when she told me this, and it helped me see the importance of not forgetting about the great diversity and needs that so many people have.
There are so many ways in which we can grow as a community of human persons, and these three areas really are just the tip of the iceberg. Instead of getting overwhelmed at this monumental task that's before us, I think it's important to start in your homes and communities. How can we best love the people that God is literally putting right in front of us? Can we find a concrete way to build community and fellowship among singles and married people in our church communities? Can we reach out to that man or woman who looks left out during the toddler storytime at the library? Can we be kind and treat people of other racial groups with the dignity and love that they deserve?