Every time we go to visit family in Pennsylvania, we always go to Longwood Gardens. We have been there dozens of times but every time we go, we see something different. This time, it was the giant lily pads. They were amazing and huge! You have the urge to want to stand on one because of their size and they look incredible strong.
What I didn’t realize is that these monstrous lily pads are all part of one giant lily pad (in each of the ponds). The pads are not independent of each other. So, when you look at one pond, the lily pads in each the picture, are all attached to a main stem, in the middle of the pound. So, if part of the lily pad isn’t well, damaged, etc. that impacts the all the pads in pond. They are not isolated.
This made me think about the concept of community. A community has one big stem and then all the pads stretch out/grow from that one stem and include schools, churches, organizations, hospitals, businesses, non-profits, governmental, etc. Each is a lily pad that connects back to the main stem. If one pad is not working or is struggling, then it impacts all the other pads.
As a community, I think we forget this at times. That we focus just on our lily pads or the lily pads that impact our daily lives and forget about the others. We also forget who is impacted most with each lily pad such as children, at risk youth, families, veterans, the elderly, etc. Or we take the stance that “those people” can stay on their pad and do things “their” way. We make excuses.
Our community is only as healthy, productive, engaging, attractive, progressive, etc. based on the health of all the lily pads, not just one or two. We need to hop to the other pads, we need to help those on the other pads, and not ignore those in need or those who need help. When you care for the whole lily pad, the whole lily pad thrives!
So, which pad do you sit on? Do you hide or stay on your pad or do you leap to others? What would it take to make a thriving and healthy community? I think we know many of these answers, but many of us are still not leaping off our pads to help. Leaping to a lily pad can be as simple as smiling at someone, donating food to the food pantry, offering to sponsor a child or family at the holidays, taking someone a meal, listening to someone who had a rough day, not judging others, etc.
Healthy, thriving, engaging communities are not grown on one or two lily pads, nor the back of 10% of our county population. A community, much that like that of a giant lily pad, is built, nurtured, sustained, by all who live and work there. Which lily pad can you hop to?