When you stare out and see the line of smog that covers the world as you’re at the summit of the hill. Inhale. It’s what we’re all dealing with.
When you need to sort your mind out on the trail. Exhale. It’s part of living, be thankful someone is hiking beside you.
When you don’t understand why the world doesn’t learn from its mistakes. Catch your breath.Recognize that we’re all a part of it.
When the pepper that you’ve finely chopped for the guacamole accidently spills over (because you’re thinking about how much is out of your control). Let it go. It’s the second law of thermodynamics.
When you’re hungry and your friend tries a new recipe and then takes 5 minutes to pray before you eat. Take it in. It was funny to see him scramble.
When you can’t put to words how you feel. Let it out. It’s an elephant.
When you have a fight with your bestfriend on a drive back from Santa Monica. Open up. Even though you’re both tired, you’re just trying to listen and care for each other.
When your body is weighing you down. Gasp. You’re in the thick of it.
When you wake up at 5 in the morning to make oatmeal pancakes to surprise your friend on her birthday. Breathe. Enjoy.
When you’re exasperated by someone that keeps misinterpreting you. Wheeze. It’s human nature.
When you’ve learned that you’re scared about losing the relationships around you. Inhale. They will only be different.
When you make the most spectacular mozzarella basil pizza. Exhale. Relish who you spend your days with.
When you hodgepodge the most spectacular meal. Respira. The people around you are real.
When you learn that it’s alright to just be. Inhale. The world is yours for the taking.
When the world feels like it has spit you out. Exhale. At least it’s being honest.
When your attempt to make chocolate cookies, causes all the chocolate to scatter. Inhale. It’s entropy.
When you realize you’re learning to fall in love. Exhale. It’s a mess; that’s natural.
When you’ve found joy and comfort in other people. Draw it in. That’s love.
When you’re frustrated by other people. Exhale. That’s also love (remember it’s a mess).
When you’re looking for support and the people you love bring you down. Give it time. It’s all about grace.
When you make pozole out of the random things in the fridge with your homie. Marinate. It’s delicious.
When you want to learn to be a better person. Let it Breathe. You can’t wait, because the world will never catch up.
Thanks to EUIP I’ve been learning how to let experiences sit. Let them marinate. My friends say that my catch phrase for the year is “Let’s just let it breathe.” They say I should tattoo it, but instead I tried to write a list of things that I’ve learned that I need to give a space to, in order to properly process. I’m still learning. But this year has given me the space to challenge myself and my assumptions of others. And acknowledge that there are so many things that we don’t know as a society.
Over time the meaning of community has changed and shifted for me in many different ways. Growing up I always thought of my family and friends as community, but it’s more than that. I always thought of the people that I formed meaningful relationships with. Community is more than just the people you choose to be around you. They are the people we try to love, support and forgive . They are the people that are there because of your current setting and situation. Community always starts with one common thread. There is something that draws y’all together.
In my case it’s the intentional community I decided to join.
This past year for me was learning to live with others in an intentional way. It wasn’t about me, but my community. We had to come together, at all times, even when we didn’t want to. Whether that be talking about our next meal, cleaning the dishes, cleaning the house, planning our next outing and even talking through our disagreements.
It wasn’t easy, but worth it. We challenged each other to be better people. We challenged each other to serve. We challenged each other to understand each other’s realities and upbringings. A community are people that want to see you grow. A community are people that challenge you. A community are people that are honest with you. A community are people that you learn to love.”
~ Alex Pagán-Mejía
“Jordan here. For me, community is more of a verb than a noun. You can have a community, but being a community is something very distinct. It means engaging when it’d be easier to just be passive. It means staying to figure things out when it’d be easier to just walk away. It means loving and forgiving even when everything inside of you tells you to do otherwise.
Community is a daily decision. When I woke up each morning, I would ask myself, “Will I give my everything for my housemates? Will I choose to walk with them through their daily lives? Will I continue committing to community?” The answer to this question was always YES. Some days that YES came out with a squeak, and some days it came out with a boom.
Much of my frustration at the beginning of my year with EUIP stemmed from the huge difference between the intimacy I’d thought my housemates and I would establish and the intimacy we actually established. Throughout the year, though, I gradually learned that it mattered much less whether I was best friends with all my housemates and much more whether I continued to “show up” for my housemates. By this, I mean that as long as I continued to engage, to pursue a deeper understanding of who my housemates are, and to put forth all my effort into simply being present with my housemates, I would be successfully living into my commitment to community.
A simple checklist or an attitude of “being a community” is one thing. Living it out as a verb, however, is what makes community a reality.”
~ Jordan Castillo
Dear Megan Circa 2015,
Right now, you’re somewhere in the middle of Texas with your mom on your way from Rochester NY to Los Angeles to start EUIP. Tomorrow you will find out that your service site is Saint Joseph Center and that you’ll be living in the Inglewood House. Spoiler alert: you’re not ready.
I know it sounds harsh but I need to be honest with you, you are not ready for this. I know you’re trying your best to keep an open mind and not try to predict what this year’s going to be like because I guarantee you that you’ll be wrong. Trust me, on this one.
I don’t mean to make it sound like this year will be some dark and tenuous trial that will have you counting down the days until you’re done. It’s going to be a good year and a complete year with amazing moments and challenges that will blindside you.
Don’t worry though, as best you can, and try to go with the flow.
This year will be filled with late-night kitchen bonding with housemates, coffee runs with coworkers, vegan caramel, grocery trips, random adventures with other EUIs, bacon, introspection, growth, friendship, and the coming together of a family in your little house in Inglewood.
I know for a fact that you don’t see the last part coming but it is and it is the best part of this year.
You’re gonna be fine <3
You circa 2016
After an intense conversation with my house, everyone was very uncomfortable and the tension was thick. We walked to the train station in silence. While waiting for the train we heard this man soulfully sing “It’s not about you, it’s not about me”.. We looked for this man but he was no where to be found. Once we couldn’t find the man we all looked at each other hugged. We spent time finishing his song but it’s still on going. Here’s what we have so far:
It’s not about you,
it’s not about me,
it’s about love and family
we need love, peace, and humanity
an open heart and eyes to see
it’s not about us
it’s about community
we’re here to love and just be free
Voices of Service
These are reflections from corps members and alumni of Jubilee Year and the Episcopal Urban Intern Program. They cover topics ranging from the sun, fun and friends in in Los Angeles to the uncensored experiences of serving vulnerable populations in our beautiful city. These are Voices of Service. For more, go through our archives below