Whenever my best friend (and “big sister”) Kathryn greets someone who she sees returning to campus, she enthusiastically tells them, “Welcome home!” Surrounded by squeals of delight in friends greeting each other, people helping strangers carry boxes, and staff members remembering us by name – it does feel like a homecoming. Kathryn told me that people never question her labeling of Davidson as home – despite the fact that we only live in this place for four years, and perhaps came from a different home before arriving to campus. This summer, particularly, reminded me that we live with many homes in our short lives, each of them informed with a particular flavor of love. This week gave me a savory taste of Davidson.
Moment one: This weekend, I had an opportunity to witness six families receive laptops in order for their children to have access to educational opportunities now a necessity in twenty first century classrooms. The E2D project, or Eliminate the Digital Divide, aims to provide all children in the town of Davidson (and beyond) with access to this technology. In one particular moment, I was sitting at a dining room table in a small, humble home on the West side of Davidson. I was meeting with a great-grandmother (we just called her Grandma!) of a child at Davidson Elementary. It was my first time witnessing the distinctly African American culture in Davidson; I had not spent very much time across the railroad tracks in our gentrified town. I felt instantly welcomed in the home, as Grandma told us about the family tree of over eight children and twenty seven grandchildren. The family showed overwhelming gratitude – and they were the first of many. I saw one woman named Sandra’s eyes light up as she read lyrics to her favorite gospel song online for the first time. I taught a young Hispanic student how to use the internet while his mother, though she did not understand our English conversation, showered me with tamales. I also saw one family – the Millen family – give their hearts, minds, and souls to this project – without any external reward. The project began when their twelve year old daughter, Franny, questioned the social inequity in her classroom. And all through the summer, Kathryn coordinated all the applications, family communications, and logistics. The project reinstated my faith in humanity to see a town come together for the sake of education and opportunity – it is possible!
Moment two: My roommate, Abbey, returned a few nights ago, and we were unpacking in the midst of dozens of boxes. Suddenly, after carrying up too many boxes and bags, she decided to stop and breathe deeply on the floor. We had spoken earlier about keeping calm in the midst of the academic storm – and this was the perfect moment of realization. Abbey and I decided to pray every night, and since then, I have felt God’s presence working through our conversations and subtle moments of breathing before bedtime. We are both growing in our authenticity and self-love, and it is such a gift to share our sanctuary of a room. Abbey brings such a pure compassion to our community that keeps growing alongside the plants beside our window.
Moment three: Gathered in a circle of Quaker worship, I opened my eyes halfway through an hour-long meditation with tears in my eyes. The love in the room was so tangible and ineffable at the same time that I had no choice but to cry. I realized, gazing at the faces of Friends I had not seen in months, that the souls around me were my family. The voices that spoke, encouraging me to ask the questions of my heart and respond with resilience in times of loss, channeled God’s healing Light. All six members of meeting who shared messages interwove a story of forgiveness and being healed by the pure energy within us all. I left meeting more grounded, centered, and reassured of the peace within every reality. Kathryn and I walked back to share lunch and celebrate the new beginning to a beauty-filled year.
Our first night reunited!
In short, I am grateful and awe-struck to be back – with so many friends and memories being created in several short days. From dining room tables to meetings for worship and first “family dinners” with all of my friends, I have experienced a union and joy that cannot be put into words. Home is found in this love of just being together, finally reunited. I am now sitting with Abbey and Kathryn and it is time to center before our first day of school tomorrow – and we all are somewhat giddy, anxious, and exhausted.
We have a challenging year ahead of us, and with stress, I pray we are simultaneously strengthened in our resilience. Davidson is not a particularly healthy campus, but it is our quest this year to live whole-ly and authentically. And no matter how much we much we fail and falter this year, I am slowly realizing that our imperfections and vulnerabilities make us fit together – like a tapestry being woven together in storms and stories. I pray that Love is always at our core and center as we live from our hearts.
As we begin school tomorrow and think about the balance of our daily lives, I live with many questions – what classes will I take? When and where will I go abroad? What will I give my heart and soul to? What are my core principles? Who am I, and who is God? As I hold these questions in my heart, I feel that I am coming home to them, just as I came home to familiar friends. I find a renewed comfort in the adventure of not-knowing and exploring through this journey.
“…I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” – Rainier Maria Rilke
So friends, as you begin this new year, what questions are you living? May you find peace in the journey.