I love looking back over all the various ways Ashley and I have gathered people together as one of the core values of our life in marriage and ministry. And as I continue to fight the loneliness epidemic in whatever ways I can, I want to think of more and more ways to gather to let people form warm and loving connections.
Some gatherings were small (like our Monday Professor Prayer Night of just 4 of us–ongoing now), and some gatherings were large (like Neighborhood Fitness Nights or the Grad Student Study Break). I look back on it all from the past 20 years: The Encouragement Group; Saturday Morning Pancakes; Writing Workshops; Walk-to-School Campaign; Soup and Stories; Sunday Night Prayer; Life Groups; Donuts in the Driveway; Block Parties; Bible Studies; Cooking Club; Morning Walking. I always like to name the thing if you haven’t noticed! Gathering might mean just 2 of you, or it might mean 200. Whatever it is, it’s good. We are built for community and togetherness.
My favorite new way to gather is so simple but so astonishingly beautiful: a support group. Gather around someone in your life who needs support in some way. Then, meet for dinner a few times a month or even for tea every week. Gather to talk and offer supportive comments. Let people share their lives. Eat chocolate if you must (I must). Talk about God. Talk about your aging bodies, your children, or your work. Meet for an hour; meet for 3 hours (like we did last night). Unburden your life as you let others unburden theirs. A support group.
As March comes to a close, what if on Monday morning, you invited a few people to gather in whatever way, for whatever reason, would most delight you (or them)? Someone needs to start the text, make the phone call, or knock on the door. Let it be you.