As I walked downtown this past Sunday morning, no buskers played their fiddles, performed magic tricks, or shaped balloon sculptures.  No trolley tours rolled by. Children weren’t playing in “Splashville’s” fountains.  Bocce Ball games hadn’t started in Roger McGuire Park.   

A cool breeze gentled the surprising warmth of the morning sun.  There were few cars on the move. 

In a few places, though, people were gathering. Long lines formed outside Early Girl and Tupelo Honey restaurants. 

A 50-something man in Khaki shorts, Hawaiian shirt, and flip flops followed a young family—husband, wife, and two toddler daughters in matching dresses—into the Haywood Hotel for worship with the Highland Church.

“Jubliants,” as the members of Jubilee! call themselves, were walking down Wall Street to their meeting space.

There were homeless folks in Pritchard Park sharing breakfast, hosted for them by several Asheville faith-communities. 

On Church Street, “all sorts and conditions” of people were entering the doors of Trinity Episcopal, First Presbyterian, and Central United Methodist Churches. 

People on foot and on bikes made their way to The Orange Peel for worship with the Grace and Peace Church. 

On North Lexington, above Voltage Records, there were people doing Zumba; their vibrant music spilled-out open windows onto the street.

All over town, there were people who wanted and needed to be together.  They were saying “no” to our culture’s hyper-individualism which causes people to fear that they’re alone or makes them insist on being left alone. I believe, though, that we hunger for human connection and crave community, because life’s best and hardest things are meant to be shared.

We need other people to encourage and love us, and they need us. We’re channels for one another of God’s tender and restoring love–flesh-and-blood reminders that we are never alone.