Another reason I was excited about moving to Westray was the possibility of being part of a community. I am unsure what community means exactly, but I am becoming more aware of how it feels.
Anyone driving past you in Westray will signal a greeting with their hand. When they pass you in the street, they say hello. I spent last weekend on Orkney mainland, and missed this.
Graham runs a taxi service that services the airstrip. If you call or text him he will come to your house to pick you up on the way. As Graham dropped us off at the airstrip, he then changed into his fire-retardant suit to take up his role as fire officer. It is not uncommon for people to have a number of jobs or take part in a number of committees, not all of which are paid.
Hans Jonas talks about the importance of, 'Letting more inconvenience into our lives'. I have been asked to consider joining the fire and coastguard services. What am I prepared to do for the community?
I have joined a Quaker group. I am yet to understand fully the gravity of sitting with others in silent worship, but it is not the same as sitting in solitude.
A member of the group is allowing me to use her house to write something I am working on. When I asked how I get in to the house when coming to write, she replied, 'You open the door.' Doors are left open, keys are left in cars. The library does not require proof of address. There is trust and generosity; perhaps these are requirements of community.
In communities there are others who might feel similar to how we feel, perhaps about something that is not easily expressed, or perhaps not held in common with many, but is deeply felt.
I have not forgotten the words spoken by a member of the group following a recent ATM Science of Education working group meeting: 'These meetings are a lifeline for me.'