Building individual endurance for heart-full living involves multiple interwoven commitments. I’ve written about seven of these over the past seven weeks. 1) Refreshing clarity of Purpose and one’s part in Life’s unfolding story. 2) Finding common ground not just in vision but also in relationship. 3) Speaking up. 4) Resting and stretching the Heart. 5) Immersing in Beauty. 6) Drawing on Earth’s regenerative powers. 7) Rooting through action. I’m certain you have your own trusted favorites discovered and cultivated through your individual studies and lived journey.
Would the same practices apply to a family or larger community? Here I find through simple observation and the vicissitudes of my own decade-long intentional community experience that, when entering the realm of “group”, complications necessarily emerge. Complications of diversity, coordination, commitment and conscious intent.
Still I wonder how does a family or community refresh its endurance for healthy, heart-full living? It’s a question, I believe, that has many answers. I contemplated its possibilities one evening on the banks of Leatherwood Creek. Hints of dusk were gathering and the frogs were just beginning their evening song, as the clear water scurried below my bare feet in a rain-fed rush.
Just a few minutes drive from my home down winding Hwy 62, Leatherwood Creek sparkles through Lake Leatherwood Municipal Park on the western edge of Eureka Springs. This city treasure was sculpted from the Ozarks beginning in the 1940’s. Its sixteen hundred acres hold a baseball diamond, soccer fields, nearly 15 miles of wooded hiking and biking trails, camping sites, cabins and an 85 acre lake featuring one of the largest hand-cut limestone dams in the United States. Not a bad spread for tourist town registering a permanent resident population under 2500. Popular locals, day visitors and overnight guests, the park’s landscape still invites the experience of feeling as if one “has the whole place to oneself”, while also offering space for group play and adventure.
In Leatherwood’s evening solitude, I realized I was sitting on and in and surrounded by an answer to my question. A community’s commitments speak to the source, quality, and opportunity that its inhabitants have for building endurance and experiencing renewal. And perhaps even to the question of whether or not the community consciously prefers to endure at all.
I don’t have any scientific studies demonstrating that Leatherwood’s accessible green space, open water, sports fields, and tended trails positively impact the sustaining heart and well-being of Eureka Springs and its residents. But watching families splash through puddles and gather in good spirits on that Wednesday evening for an informal round of soccer gave me the practical measure of proof I need that this park, this community commitment strengthens and builds endurance of heart and health.