Ripple Effects of Community and Benefits of Joining Together
Community fun at The Inner-Connection, New Cumberland
Throughout the South Central Pennsylvania area, the ripple effects of community are far-reaching and long-lasting, making a positive impact on the lives of many. Natural Awakenings spoke with four local advocates for creating community: Reverend Dan Landis, minister and spiritual coach at Unity of Harrisburg; Karen Kovacs, president of the board of directors for Amethyst Retreat Center; and Ratha and Jean-Paul Wright, owners of The Inner-Connection. They all agree that joining in fellowship with others creates opportunities for connection and collaboration.
“In today’s world of displaced families and disconnected relationships through the use of technology, there is a basic human need to belong,” reflects Landis. “I think of our community at Unity of Harrisburg as our tribe. As a diverse group of like-minded people growing in spiritual consciousness, we honor everyone’s journey and their beliefs. I feel the most important benefit of our tribe is that everyone is accepted, honored and loved for exactly who they are.”
A sense of community grows from a feeling of mutual respect. “At Amethyst Retreat Center, we respect all perspectives and paths; therefore, when we work on projects together, there is much to share and to learn from each other,” relates Kovacs. “We have weekly community service days where we tend the lavender, work in the garden and care for the property. Our monthly community events give us the opportunity to gather together, enjoy nature and share our individual gifts. Nothing is possible without each other, and everything is possible when we share our ideas and collaborate.
“When we are working together on the care of the property and on projects that are meaningful to us, not only are we enriched, but we also benefit the wellbeing of many others,” she explains. “This experience fuels us with a sense of purpose, and we realize that regardless of our individual beliefs and personalities, as human beings, we long for heartfelt connections and a high quality of life. There is a deep desire for living in a holistic and simple way that is the magnet that draws us into community. Joy and a sense of finding our ‘home’ keep us together.”
The Wrights agree wholeheartedly. “The Inner-Connection was created to be a safe haven for people,” explains Jean-Paul. “When people feel safe, they are open to sharing about the joys and struggles of life.” Ratha observes that connecting with people is a catalyst for processing life’s experiences.
A purposeful greeting, with eye contact followed by conversation and welcome touch, deepens a connection that keeps people coming back to a community. “Creating a spiritual community of harmonious people is one of our most important intentions,” says Landis. “In the beginning of every Sunday service, we take time for handshakes and hugs as we greet as many folks as possible. At the end of every Sunday service, we create our Peace Circle with everyone holding hands as we circle the sanctuary. Immediately following the service, we hold our Universal Healing Circle and then time together in the Fellowship Hall for coffee and treats. Each Tuesday night, we hold our Deeper and Higher classes that provide time to share and learn from each other. All of these activities are important for our community to deepen their connections with each other.”
“We are all on a journey toward a greater understanding of who we are,” affirms Kovacs. “When we come together as a community for fun, for work or to collaborate, we benefit from the group support and the connection. We find we feel most alive when we feel connected to people and purposes that feed us body, mind and spirit. Our diversity helps to move us beyond our own sphere of beliefs, and we grow.”
With growth comes the inspiration to form relationships that provide support to set goals, maintain our dedication to work toward those goals, and then achieve them. Relationships and gathering in community also provide balance. “The biggest impact that community has on balance is the connection people feel with themselves and their inner and outer circles of friends,” says Jean-Paul.
Communities encourage inner balance. Feeling accepted, honored and loved creates a steadiness of the heart and mind that unveils the power of the spirit, revealing the capacity to love and serve others. “One of the activities that leads to human balance is learning to give of oneself and help another,” avows Landis. “When we give of ourselves, we are blessed with a sense of belonging.”
“Our yoga studio and the cozy atmosphere of our gathering space bring people together,” says Ratha. “The Inner-Connection is an arena where individuals can form relationships with people that have experienced things similar to them because interactions occur naturally. What we do here can be found in a book, but people come for the community experience, which is an extension of our family,” offers Jean-Paul. “We decided to be open seven days a week because we can serve the community in the way that they want to be served.”
The benefits of community are deeply rooted in the value of life. “Community is the ‘way’,” believes Kovacs. “Human problems can only be solved now with creativity, collaboration and courage. Communities all over the world with the intention for a new way of living will be the way forward for life on Earth.”
“We are at the forefront of a new wave of consciousness, awakening and spiritual transition,” suggests Jean-Paul. “Spirituality is a journey, and going together makes it so much more meaningful. If you want to go quickly, go by yourself. If you want to go far, go together.”
Unity of Harrisburg is located at 927 Wertzville Rd., in Enola. For more information, call 717-732-9773 or visit UnityOfHarrisburg.org.
Amethyst Retreat Center is located at 44 Buffalo Creek Rd., in Duncannon. For more information, email AmethystRetreatCenter@gmail.com or visit AmethystRetreatCenter.org.
The Inner-Connection is located at 300 Bridge St., in New Cumberland. For more information, call 717-833-4325 or visit MyInnerConnection.com.