As a year-long volunteer addressing racial, economic, and social injustices, my main focus in Philadelphia…
As I reflect on the encounters that have filled these first few months in my new home, it is often the smallest moments that remain the most profound. They are easy to overlook, and perhaps difficult to recognize. Yet, when I consider the ways in which I have felt most deeply moved, it is often the small moments that remain closest to my heart. It is in the warm greeting from the doorman at the office each morning. It is the way the sun hits Chinatown just as it is beginning to set. It is the conversations with clients as they teach me the Dari and Pashto words of the foods that stock our pantry shelves. These encounters have allowed me to appreciate the beauty of ordinary moments. In doing so, I begin to feel a sense of community in wonderfully unexpected ways.
Still, there are countless instances where I feel the burden of uncertainty weighing heavily on my mind. As I step into this year of growth, I am faced with a world of unknowns. Yet, I am beginning to view this uncertain future not as a burden to overcome, but rather an extraordinary gift to celebrate. To lean into the discomfort of this uncertainty is to release the expectation of what I thought these months may entail. I am unsure of the road ahead, and uncertain of which direction it will take me. But, with each small connection and every short encounter, I have faith that I am precisely where I am meant to be at this moment.
Already, this experience has challenged my notion of community, and what it means to exist in partnership with those around us. To immerse one’s self carefully and humbly into a community is to foster a compassionate presence to others. It is to acknowledge the complexities of their lived experience, and to bear witness to their strengths and struggles. If we are bold enough to stand in the face of uncertainty, we may come to realize that this sense of community can be found in the unlikeliest of places. And when we do find the humility to welcome uncertainty into our lives, those small moments may begin to feel a bit larger.
Colleen Swanhart: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania