PREPARING FOR THE ADVENTURE: glimmers of the beloved community

Tonight was a celebration. I can still hear the sounds of reckless laughter and cupid shuffle echoing off the walls of the room where we’d spent hours and hours training this week. We’d had a long week here in Stoney Point Conference Center in New York, learning about community and conflict, privilege and poverty, sharing our fears and anticipations for the coming year. We were tired, emotionally, and physically. But when the music poured through the speakers of our little room, we danced anyway. Because maybe, amidst the grinning faces and fabulous footwork, we realized this would be one of the last nights we’d spend together as a YAV family before heading off in vastly different directions. I myself would be going to Korea, others around me were going to Little Rock, some Scotland, some Peru. Some of us came from far away; Africa, San Antonio, Korea, and some of us were locals. None of us looked the same, none of us danced the same, and English wasn’t everyone’s first language. Looking around at our group doing now the wobble, I noticed we couldn’t be more different.

But there we were, all the same, all shaking our butts and laughing at ourselves in the process. All signed up to do this crazy year of service in far off places with strange cultures; none of us quite knowing what we got ourselves into, but knowing it would be ok because of one foundational truth, and one core ideal.

We are YAV, the new generation of Young adult Volunteers. The ideal we hold is one of the beloved community, of a family comprised of individuals from different cultures, celebrating differences and learning to handle conflict together, through love. (Sounds impossible? I’ve seen it work…) The truth we hold on to is that we can achieve this, through the power of the Holy Spirit, with strength from God our Father, and Jesus, our brother. What we know is that we are loved beyond belief by the one who sent us, and what we hold on to is that He will never leave us. It is one God we worship, through many ways in many different languages, from vastly different backgrounds.

It was a neat sight, seeing all of us unified under one dance, laughing at ourselves and each other. Maybe this is our first glimpses into the beloved community. We might not all speak the same, look the same, or come from the same places, but tonight we did do a mighty impressive wobble.

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