The East Kingdom of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) has a new King and Queen today. Yesterday I joined my old choir as we sang in the Last Court of King Brennan and Queen Caoilfhionn,and later provided a little music to entertain the populace as King Edward and Queen Thyra sat in State. For me it was a last minute thing, as I had left the choir when I moved east, but they were short a tenor and asked if I could join them for this event (with only two weeks notice!). At first I wondered if the whole thing was going to be a train wreck, but on Friday night’s rehearsal it all pulled together just as it had for years.
Before she stepped down Caoilfhionn took her final liberty to address the populace. She spoke of the Queen’s duty to inspire the populace, but how she found her inspiration from watching the service of others, the love so many had for this organization built around the ideal of chivalry from a time long past. She thanked them all for being the Dream.
The Dream. That’s what SCAdians call it. It’s that ideal of chivalry that never was fully realized, that never can be full realized. What started out as a bunch of people at a theme party has grown into something quite extraordinary. For forty-nine years people have put in countless hours and unbelievable energy into building a community around those ideals. They come to practice armored combat, or archery, or create amazing period garb and art, or cook wonderful feasts, or provide music, but they do it all in service of The Dream. We spent over a decade in that community before life pulled us in other directions, but in that time we made some of the closest friends we ever had, and in the last two years they were part of the core of people who kept me from sinking under the weight of it all. One of them introduced me into another community built around crazy ideals, those Morris dancers I have written about.
Communities. There are lots of examples in the animal world of communities that support each other, from ant colonies to wolf packs to whale pods. People build communities around family blood lines and geography too, but we do more than than that. As we learn more and more about how advanced some animals are, how they are capable of things that we never realized, one thing still separates us from the rest:
We are the ones who build communities around ideas. We build them around shared interests, but the most important ones are built around ideals about how to make the world a better place. Those communities call us to be more than we think we can be, to take batter care of each other and the world around us. Those are the places you can come home to, places where you can heal, and in time give back to those who gave when you couldn’t.