Finding Your Tribe

First Grade Class

I had the funniest conversation the other day.  I had lunch with a friend.  We were going to meet at 1 at a restaurant a block away from the office.  That morning, I started working on a spreadsheet gathering data for analysis.  It was a bit complicated, and I got completely wrapped up in getting everything in the spreadsheet in an order that would help me come up with the numbers I needed.  It was so interesting and I love doing that sort of thing.

My cell phone rang, and I saw that it was my friend.  I picked it up and was going to ask if we were still on for lunch, when I looked at the time on my computer and realized it was ten minutes after 1.  I was so wrapped in what I had been doing that I completely lost track of time.  I thought it was maybe 11:30.

I zipped over to the restaurant, found my friend and apologized for being late.  I told him I had been working on this really interesting spreadsheet and lost track of the time.  He looked at me as if I were an alien and said, “Interesting spreadsheet?  That’s something I’ve never heard anybody say.”

I had to laugh, because it’s so true.  How often have you ever heard anybody say they forgot the time because they were immersed in a spreadsheet?  I do the same thing when I’m working on our website.  I’ll get so wrapped up in trying to figure out the coding that makes the site run that I’ll sit at my desk until 5:30 or 6 and not realize I should have gone home already.  It’s all just so interesting to me, and I love the process of working these things out.  It’s a bit like doing crossword puzzles – it’s all a challenge to make something come out right.

The usual reaction to this is the same as my friend’s reaction.  I keep expecting people to tilt their heads to the side like dogs do when they hear a sound that disturbs them.  But some people really get it, and I get to geek out with them.  That’s when I know I’ve found someone who is in my tribe.  (By the way, my friend I had lunch with is a member of my tribe.  It’s just a different tribe.)

We all have tribes.  One of the great things about the way we grow in understanding as we age is that we learn what our tribes are.  We recognize parts of ourselves in others and form bonds with them.  That’s one of the things that keeps me going to church in the face of the decreasing number of people in this country who attend church.  I’ll sometimes sit during communion, watching people go up to the altar and find myself thinking how wonderful it is to be in the midst of all these people I love and who love me.  It’s almost overwhelming.

I’m so grateful to be part of a community that means so much to me.  And I’m so grateful that that community exists.  That gratitude has led me to invest both my time and my money in that community, not only to help it continue to exist, but also to do my part in helping it help others.

My church, like most churches, not only serves its own internal community of members, but also reaches out to serve the greater communities in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the United States, and the rest of the world.  It does this in a variety of ways, as is true of  other churches as well.  Because not only are we members of our own small tribes, we’re also members of the greater tribe of our neighbors, our fellow Americans, and the world.  I like to think that we’re working to make the world a better place, and I’m grateful to be a very small part of that.

So who’s in your tribe?  Where is your community?  And what are you called to do to express your gratitude for them?