View From Glen Hill: Coming together in community

Working together in community is one of Wilton’s great strengths. We see it expressed in so many ways year around, but it especially shines during holiday times. The magnitude of help to others within and outside our town is really quite amazing and reflected in so many different ways that no column could possibly begin to do it justice. It is emblematic of our oneness in a very special spirit. And that seems especially important right now.
Community is best formed in the doing, and much of Wilton action together for the good reaches across cultural, racial, ethnic, religious, economic, and political lines to underscore that what we are is a joyous reflection of the different strengths, perspectives, and interests of who we are. Ours would be a sad community indeed if we were all the same! And we embrace our need to recognize, preserve and enhance the sense of community as one in which everyone is acknowledged, respected, and included.
Rabbi Rachel Bearman of Temple B’nai Chaim in Georgetown said it well in her sermon on Nov. 20th: “We will celebrate with families as they experience joyous events, and we will comfort those who are struggling. We will hold onto one another, and we will help each other live rich and meaningful lives.”
Rabbi Peter Rubinstein of the 92nd Street Y in New York City recently expressed this sense of community this way: “We have the power to make another person’s life better through acts of intentional kindness. We can feed them when they’re hungry, hug them when they’re hurting, stand by them when they’re afraid … regardless of differences.”
Novelist Suzanne Fisher put it this way, “Being helpful is an act of grace: tangible evidence of the loving, kind character of God. … Everything and everyone is interconnected and complementary in the world of God’s goodness.”
And Pope Francis, speaking in St. Peter’s Square last month said, “We are called to show mercy and include others in our lives, rather than becoming closed within ourselves. Inclusion is an aspect of mercy that reaches out to everyone without regard for social conditions, language, race, culture, or religion. It’s shown in the love of each person as God loves us.”
So in a Wilton supermarket last week, one shopper approached another who was not known to her simply to say, “Although I’m a stranger to you, I want to tell you how much I admire and respect individuals who wear headscarves. You are being courageous in reflecting what you believe, and I’m very proud to be a member of this community with you!” So, too, when our Syrian refugee family arrived eight months ago, one of their first visitors was Don Sauvigné, chair of the Wilton Police Commission that oversees our police department. He came with a housewarming gift from the police department and the police commission, underscoring that they are all here to help. And later, the Wilton Police and Fire Departments brought over a patrol car and a fire truck so that the kids could see them up close and understand more about first responders’ roles in town safety and protection. This was an especially thoughtful act because in the family’s former country, police were people to fear, not helpers and protectors. And there are many similar examples from our town political leaders, school administrators, teachers, and simply ordinary people on the street who make our family feel very welcome here.
As Wilton Presbyterian Church said in its advertisement in this newspaper several weeks ago, “Love your neighbor; do not be afraid; that you may overflow with hope, honor everyone.”
In an act of community formation across this entire region through the efforts of one of Wilton’s own, you can see on Dec. 18th at 6 p.m. at the Klein Auditorium in Bridgeport a bright reflection of Mary Bozzuti Higgins’ dedicated work volunteering her remarkable musical talents in direction of the outstanding Choir for Youth she created composed of young people from 42 parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport whom she rehearses in four locations in Bridgeport, Wilton and Danbury three days per week year around. Their program, Arise and Shine, is glorious and uplifting!
And in the Wilton High School Field House this past Sunday, a large group of our high school students packaged 12,000 meals for nonprofit Stop Hunger Now, Inc. These young people mirror the diversity of our community, and their joyous engagement in work together for the good provides a beautiful reflection of who we are: one in community.