Shockingly, I actually knew the word the kid from McKinney, Texas, spelled to win this year’s Scripps Spelling Bee. (I also happen to know where McKinney is based on my time living in Fort Worth, which is basically ‘somewhere on the other side of Dallas.’) I first heard the word ‘koinonia’ sitting in church on a Sunday morning, which makes sense since the word’s primary definition according to Merriam-Webster is “the Christian fellowship or body of believers.” Church has always been a part of my life, as regular and familiar as breathing, even when it sometimes felt labored, like exercise. That’s what happens when groups of imperfect people get together—we make a big, beautiful mess.
Outside of a religious context, I think koinonia has an even deeper meaning and greater purpose in today’s digitized world. At holidays and family gatherings, we used to spend time chatting about nonsense, debating and discussing all sorts of things, or even just sitting quietly together. Now we’re often staring at our screens and using our fingers to debate and discuss rather than actually connecting. We’ve replaced the people in front of us with news and apps and memes and filters because, let’s be honest, it’s just easier and we can pretend we’re removed from the mess.
Koinonia comes from Greek and literally means communion or fellowship, but I like that the root word is koinos, which means common or ordinary. Fellowship—being with our people—doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to be a date night or a big holiday gathering. It’s little moments snuggled on the couch, “do you like this outfit” while shopping, or hugs without words while someone cries.
Koinonia is about presence.
So this summer, I will put down my phone and be present with my people. I will soak up the moments, and revel in the companionship of my fellow humans. If we all made this the summer of koinonia, I think we’d see a pretty dramatic shift in our world, and while there would still be mess, it might look a little more beautiful.
With a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business and more than 11 years of diverse marketing experience, Tara understands that clear communication is the key to customer satisfaction. Whether it’s consumer product goods, higher education, insurance, or healthcare, developing a solid strategy that leads to concise, targeted messaging creates a framework for successful projects and sustainable growth. Tara is experienced in writing copy, designing ads and recording radio spots, and is responsible for leading the Writing by Design team and its clients through each communications project.