Broadly speaking, a lot the last month has gone as expected; I’ve formed new friendships with other Fellows, I’ve begun integrating into the staff at my church, and I’ve become fairly competent at navigating public transportation. But rather than speaking of what I’ve done, it’s much more exciting to speak of how I’ve done it. That’s because Life Together is far from Life As Usual.
A lesson from Training: Vocabulary Because we’re talking about living differently this year, both in our communities and out in the world, we needed a new language. In our new language words were chosen with great intentionality. For example, can I feel that someone’s actions are unfair? Not really. But because I think they are unfair, I may therefore feel angry, or hurt, or sad. Thinking and feeling come from different centers in the body, and recognizing the difference is meaningful. As my words become a truer representation of what I am actually experiencing, I create a foundation of self-understanding from which I can step into both changing myself, and welcoming others into that change in an honest way.
A lesson from my Site Placement: Latent Passions My primary work at St. James’s Episcopal Church in Cambridge is with their social justice, young adult, and welcome ministries, but I’ve inevitably been drawn into other areas as well. While attending a liturgy planning meeting (choosing hymns, discussing prayers, etc. for the weekly church service) I found that I was a lot more into it than I would have thought. I started to realize that the options were more diverse than I had known, and I began to see the careful process that went into creating the liturgy. When I worked this surprise interest into my Learning Covenant for the year, my Site Supervisor offered to bring me into the process in an even deeper way. Thanks to my curiosity and inquiry I’ll now be participating in virtually every step of the liturgy! While this wasn’t in any of my prep materials, I can already tell that it’s going to be one of the most sustaining practices I have this year.
A lesson from the ‘T’: Smiles are free, but they take work While riding Boston’s public transportation, known as the ‘T’, I noticed early on that folks got pretty uptight the moment they stepped on. What I noticed immediately after that was that I too had put on a blank face and hunched myself into a sterile blue plastic seat. Not only was this out of character for me, but it was going to make for some fairly depressing cross-city travels. I resolved therefore to smile, or to at least have friendly body language and a decent look on my face, at all times during my commuting. It turns out to be more difficult than it sounds, too. When I get on in the morning, I’m sleepy and distant. When I ride in the afternoon it’s crowded and hot. Whenever I think of it though, I sit up a little straighter, take in the wonderful diversity of people around me, and try to say ‘hi’ to folks who sit down next to me. It turns out I’ve met some nice folks!
These anecdotes are just a little sample of a major theme of the past month. Thanks to a grounding in spiritual community, a grounding in caring for and being cared for by my closest neighbors, I’ve stepped into innumerable tiny adventures with an open heart. I look forward to many more.
By Reed Loy, 2011-12 Micah Fellow at St. James, Cambridge