When Kathy and I first moved to Grand Haven five years ago, we really didn’t know much about the area. We knew we loved Lake Michigan and overall the Tri-Cities area seemed like a good community to live in, so we did what many will tell you not to do when you retire – we moved to a new community.
One of the items that we agreed upon was to find a spiritual community where we would thrive. One where we could connect and invest ourselves into the greater community. We had a plan and that plan was to visit a variety of churches and other communities to see where we fit and a place where our values fit.
It was the Sunday we walked into the Community Center when we knew we had found our tribe. We found a welcoming community based on values.
For us, it was important to find a community that believed in a common humanity. One that respects the dignity and worth of every individual, and we found it.
We believe in diversity and were thrilled to find a community that affirms all people and embraces all genders, sexual orientations and ethnicities.
As adults, we have a desire to continue to learn, and we found a community where open inquiry is encouraged. One which pursues the free exchange of ideas, explores the lessons of science, philosophy and the creative arts. One which helps to guide each of us as we undertake our own spiritual journeys.
It was important to us to find a community that strives to safeguard and extend human rights, peace and social justice both locally and globally.
We know that for our children, grandchildren and future generations to survive, the environment is key, so finding a community that believes in environmental sustainability was one of the most important needs on our list.
While learning, study and growth are important, for us a community that is more than just talk, one where action is just as important, was high on our list. I am constantly amazed to witness the positive actions each of the members takes in the greater community and how the community as a whole comes together to make positive changes in our local area and in our nation.
And finally, Kathy and I recognized that our own well-being requires wholeness and wellness of our mind, body and spirit. And that while working toward this is an individual responsibility, we recognize that there is an inter-relatedness and interdependence on the rest of humanity.
Yes, we knew we had quite a list and to have every box checked by our second visit surprised even us. We discovered that there was a place in West Michigan where people are free to express themselves. We’ve found a tribe where people take many things seriously, but at the same time don’t take themselves so seriously that they can’t have fun. We have found a tribe that likes to celebrate and work toward living a good life. We’ve found a place with multiple opportunities to serve the greater community. And maybe most importantly, we found a community that doesn’t claim perfection, but does strive to continually improve.
For us, C3 isn’t just about values. For Kathy and me, it is now also about the friends we’ve come to know. It seems that in every season of life there are friends, some for a while and some for a lifetime. We have been fortunate to have many friends for a lifetime, and I suspect that the C3 family will join our lifetime friends.
And for me, it is the privilege of getting to know the creative side of C3. I am privileged to be amongst and get to know a wide variety of artists, It is amazing to me the talent this community has in its midst. I’ve never known such an amazing group of diverse talent. I am truly humbled and constantly awed by the poets, writers, muralists, designers, potters, singers, musicians and illustrators in our community.
Sometimes in life you get lucky, but luck is often a result of hard work. I think our discovery of C3 is a result of both work and luck. We do feel lucky, but maybe grateful is a better word. We are grateful that there is a spiritual organization right here in Grand Haven, where all are welcome, all have an opportunity to learn and grow. A place where action is a vital part of the community. A place that doesn’t have all the answers but is willing to help and guide us to find the answers. A place where there is a smile and maybe even a hug to greet you on a Sunday and at any of our social activities.
C3 West Michigan’s Inclusive Spiritual Community has made our move to a new city and our entry into retirement more joyful than we could have ever imagined.
We found our tribe, and if you are still looking for yours, feel free to stop by the Community Center any Sunday and see what I’m talking about.
— By Mark Smith, Tribune community columnist