Yearning for Community


When I saw this photograph of dolphins communing with each other, it reminded me of a groundbreaking memory in my life. It took place almost 30 years ago when I was invited to a party at someone’s home — a gathering of folks whom I had never met before. I’ll never forget walking into the party and being struck by how the people were actually looking into each other’s eyes and care-fully listening to each other. I had honestly never encountered such loving and conscious people relating with each other in such a real way.

I was very lonely at that point in my life, much more so than I even knew, and the undeniable presence of intimacy I encountered stirred my pain and the deep longing I held in my heart to share more genuinely with others. Amazingly, from way down in my belly, I found myself crying uncontrollably as my many years of loneliness and yearning came to the surface. A number of the people there were so caring and compassionate as they listened to and supported me in my vulnerability. That party was a turning point in my life, and ushered in a steady flow of long-term friendships and sacred community that, fortunately, exists to this day.

“You’ve been walking in circles, searching.

Don’t drink by the water’s edge. Throw yourself in.

Become the water. Only then will your thirst end.”

~ Jeanette Berson

I’ve had the good fortune of having a number of rich encounters with dolphins, and found them to exude a presence of sensitivity and wholeheartedness — along with a wonderful willingness to engage in relationship. In my experience, they instinctively make themselves available to commune with humans, with their surroundings, and with each other. Given how we humans can often default into disturbance and separation in our relationships, dolphins serve as one of the most healing teachers we have on this planet.

“What we need is community in the deepest sense of the

word. A place with a shared sense of destiny.

A place with the sense that what happens

to one affects all. A place where we are all

elevated when we help elevate all others.”

~ Greg Kimura

As a fascinated student of the American Revolution and the Civil War, I am struck by how a powerful sense of community — along with an emerging shared vision — often forms in the face of major change or confrontation. (The groundswell of empowerment taking place in Iran is a current example.) One of my favorite figures in history is Walt Whitman, who immersed himself in caring for the thousands of wounded and dying soldiers on the front lines of the Civil War. In the poem excerpt below, he captures his visceral experience of shared humanity as he served during that powerful time in our country’s history:


by Walt Whitman

I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,

To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,

To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing,

laughing flesh is enough,

To pass among them, or touch any one, or rest my arm

ever so lightly round his neck or her neck for a moment —

what is this, then?

I do not ask any more delight — I swim in it, as in a sea.

There is something in staying close to men and women

and looking on them, and in the contact and odor of

them, that pleases the soul well.

All things please the soul, but these please the soul well.

Speaking of community and shared humanity, I always welcome hearing from those of you called to share your experience of reading these journals.

Blessings to you and the family and friends that are members of your sacred community — and to all those things in your life that please your soul well, Gavin

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Your Comments

  1. Brendan Moynihan says:

    August 2, 2009

    Gavin – I am always happy to see a new Sacred Passages journal in my Inbox. Especially this one – I had a dream of swimming with dolphins last night. The sense of belonging and being a part of a community resonates deeply within me. Thank you again, and again, Gavin.

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