French winemakers use the term terroir to describe the unique character a place bestows upon a particular bottle of wine, type of cheese, or loaf of bread. Loosely translated, the word terroir means “a sense of place.” For wine, coffee, and bread, this is tied to soil, water, climate, topography, and growing methods.
My question for us is: What is the terroir of your community? What are the distinctive gifts and needs, strengths and weaknesses that shape and form your community into who it is? What are the unique characteristics that bestow a sense of place that need to be honored and nurtured for the health and vitality of the community? How does the terroir your community differ from neighboring communities? When we honor the terroir of a community, we are honoring the uniqueness of that place. When we bless a community, we find ourselves blessed in return.
The challenge is that many of us have been shaped by and trained to serve in centralized systems where one size fits all. We know that our centralized systems no longer work (if they ever did). Yet still we find ourselves seeking a universal solution to our problems. Deep down, we know that centralized systems do not allow us to honor the terroir of a particular community. We all have experienced the loss born of standardization. Perhaps that’s why people are so resistant to change. Because it asks them to deny and reject that which is most essential to who they are. Yet, change at its best honors that each one of us is fearfully and wonderfully made and that our world is good… very good. And, it is rooted in relationship.