A Communal Path with Kindred Spirits

Watching the opening ceremony of the 2018 Olympics, some truths struck me: Unity and Community is all any of us can contribute to our existence and in so doing make this life a better place.

What do I mean by that?

I’m so glad that you too had that question. If you haven’t met me yet, I’m pretty intense. One random thought can consume me until I unknot it. So here I am, on a Sunday morning at 5 a.m., unknotting truth. I realized when watching the ceremony that my entire life has been lived in Hollywood, CA doing just this, seeking truth in unity and community.

My first vivid experience arose during the first ten years of my life, living on the streets with my fellow brethren, my best friend (we’ll call him T) and I brought together all the children of the community to our apartment building. There was an empty corner that shielded us from the weather. We set up a makeshift classroom there. We sat them down and spent endless hours with them. I taught them and helped them with their homework and when I was done loving on their minds and souls, T took us onto the yard and filled our bodies with boundless energy-basketball, baseball, tag… we played until we collapsed on the grass or huddled around the washing machine and dryer to stay warm.  We loved each other and together felt boundless.

Life’s lessons aren’t measured by one simple season though.  I rediscovered this need for community in middle school, walking the crowded halls and feeling empty till a short Latina sista pulled me aside with her realization, “Deep down we are all skeletons and if you ignore everything else that’s layered over it, we are no different. Maybe, just maybe we need to come together and be one crew-the Skeleton crew.” And so we began, we united-black, white, Asian, female, male, Armenian, Hispanic… we pulled together all of the misfits we can find that felt as we did and we created our own community. We shared boundless love amongst ourselves when we lacked it elsewhere and made the days pass by with the sweetest of flavors. And in time, as we built each other up, we felt like we belonged on this planet, together, loved regardless of our differences.

I tripped into such a community in high school. I found myself in Campus News by chance and was wrapped in love by a group who focused on relaying truth across the airwaves into the larger community. Recently one of my mentors posted hundreds of pictures across years in which different groups shared the same feeling of truth and community within the structure of Campus News, helping me realize that I am not alone in my need to feel belonging. We learned to focus our minds, to use the need for community as a means to achieve greater things.

Who knew that one opening ceremony would lead to such immense ponderings? God did. He’s made us who we are. I for instance, he’s given a depth too that often comes off as a bit too intense. I reside in the deep and seek truth and community. I don’t do well with surface level chatter, can’t hold senseless trivia in my mind, and am drawn to those most different from me. But knowing him or at least beginning to know him, I have come to realize that he does this intentionally. He’s offered me experiences along the way to help shape my perceptions (just as your experiences have come to shape who you are) and now I find myself drawn to kindred spirits who in turn seek truth, love, and community.

The most intense of experiences though occurred during my eight months of hell. The community that surrounded me and lifted me up during my chemotherapy consisted of the most unique of souls. R fed me- he sent food every few weeks. Even when I felt as though I could not hold any food down, the thought that he shared his love boundlessly through the act of cooking fueled me forward. I cried as I unpacked the food, fortunate he could not see and blessed him for loving purely. My friend S must have had a ton of things to do on Saturdays-he taught five days a week, sometimes six, but every few weeks he’d grace my door and fill my hours with writing. He forced my mind to stay fresh. He challenged me to put typewriter to thought and share my soul using the typed word. He showed me that community, true community, happens in spite of differences-true community does not see color or shape, distance, or attitude- it recognizes something deeper within us and aims at maintaining the depths of what God wants us to learn from this life-truth, love, and community are powerful agents of change and at times are the best weapons in the face of fear, doubt, and pain.

There were so many that contributed to carrying me through my personal hell, individuals who made time to sit with me, read with me, make me laugh, cry, eat, walk, and simply be. And for each and every one of them my soul raises a prayer in awe that they knew truth and realized our interconnectedness long before I did, that they did not let me walk this path in isolation.

So I challenge you to do the same. If you know of a person who is breaking, don’t turn away. You don’t have to do much. Sitting with them is sometimes enough to spark their flame. Laughter always heals, so if you’re quick with a joke-share it.  A text telling them that they matter will light up their lives too. Go beyond your comfort zone, reach out and share your love, and as Robert Frost stated in his poem, “A Road Not Taken,” doing so has “made all the difference.”

The opening ceremonies of the 2018 Olympics spoke volumes to my soul because of this fact. Watching the dance where yin/yang were represented via a communal dance. Where John Lennon’s song blasted in unison by four different Korean artists, when the torch was carried and lit by three youths who stood together at the top of the stairs, raising up their torch as one, before it was skated effortlessly towards the basin. All of this reminded me that what I had forever seen as a curse- my inability to remain true to the “nationality” I was born to, to the people I should call my own, was in fact a blessing. 

Why see color when we have one soul? Why hold back when we are united by words? Why deny anybody a place in my heart, when that’s all we can give each other on this planet? For trust me, when on one’s deathbed, no thoughts of money or status fill one’s mind. King Tut couldn’t take it with him my friends, and you won’t be able to either!

But what you can do is hold tight to the realization that you are one small part of a greater whole, that your life matters and resonates in the life of others, that sharing of love is the one pure truth we can wrap around our shoulders as we each meet our makers. And, this life holds so many opportunities to do just this. It’s not hard. Be present in every moment and when the need arises, don’t talk yourself down the precipice with doubt-jump! Act! Love…

So today, a week till my six month Oncology appointment I sit at peace in the darkness (for literally it is dark right now, 5:30 a.m. to be exact) and I feel only light at the community I have been given to stand beside me, to worship with me, meditate on truths, to break my body and put it back together again on a weekly basis, to stick me with needles and listen to my fears, and to help me realize that I am not alone, for even though each of our journeys is a solitary one and we must walk our paths by ourselves, we need not do it in isolation. Let the kindred spirits in. Be a kindred spirit, join a path, and light it with love and truth.

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