The journey of living here has been so much more of an experience then language could ever define.
Since moving in, the roots of my soul have been uplifted and replanted in many different ways and over countless times. It has become very difficult for me to speak in an unadorned manner. At times I have felt like a tiny weed growing amidst a beautifully orchestrated garden. There have also been moments when the spread of my leaves may have provided others with shade from the sun’s burning rays – just as others have protected me.
If Atangard were a garden: all who have and still do live here, as well as those who are a part of our essential extended family, began as little seeds and have grown like the trees, upwards and onwards. Momentarily some have reached greater heights, while others have struggled to bloom. But just like any other ecosystem, we grow together. And just as a garden does, this community has grown with time and changed with the seasons. Yet still together we yearn for the warmth of the sun, reaching out for life and comfort. And as we stretch out our roots, we begin filling our veins with the nutrients of a home. For some residents our community might be more of a social undertaking and for others a personal endeavour. But I believe we all have the potential to make it both and everything in between.
The question of what sets this place apart from other communities has always been asked. Part of the answer, I believe, can be found in what connects us. We have our traditions, rituals, and expectations – eating together probably being the most obvious. But what truly binds us, regardless of how much or how little we may actually know of one another, is the love we share. That we can recognize the good in everyone. Though it may be unseen at times, it is a love which transcends these old walls and creates a maze of bridges we are all free to cross. The bridges are built on the fact that we cherish and care about each other, even if at times just through our own silent thoughts and prayers. Sometimes, the depth of our words and actions may not always run as deep as our intentions. Yet honour exists in our ability to love one another, which gifts us the opportunity to grow in this place. Though this home of ours stands as a unique model to the outside, many find themselves not recognizing any difference after a time spent here.
By living in close quarters with one another, I have learned that within all the inspiration, conflict and instances which occur, we have the ability to partake in a healing process. That by living in this particular community, the lasting changes we endure as individuals allow us to flourish in the world we join hereafter. We are all products of our experiences: the millions of moments, thoughts and conversations we have make us who we are. We all impact one another more than we could really realize or fully understand. This experience has significantly made my life better… made me better. Though I am not always able to understand or express my love, or my keen admiration, I am overwhelmed by it always. I count myself blessed and honoured to be among such inspiring and remarkable people. Living together is an experience that demands each one of us to be challenged and forgiving. It also enables us to share in the intricacies, complexities and profound depths of our human existence with others.
The only regret has been my own inability to cross over some of these bridges. You could say that I have a fear of heights. While I’ve suffered in wondering how to love those who surround me better and deeper, I’ve simultaneously failed to yet fully accept the love and acceptance that has been present the entire time. Sometimes openness can be a matter of pealing skin off the heart. Old wounds, however, make for many thick layers which take longer to uncover. I fear there is no real way I can express my gratitude for the forgiveness, patience and understanding of where I lack and fall behind.
For me Directorship has been a journey wrapped in humility. In fact, probably most of my experience here has been that of humility. Being the weed I am at times, I take great pleasure in the beauty that I am surrounded by in this garden. Despite some frustration evoked by personal challenges, along with some trying moments during Director Meetings, it has always been striking to witness the creativity, care and endurance put forth in making this place work. I love and admire everyone here so deeply. I only hope that I can do half of what I see and feel others doing for this place, Directors and Residents.
I look forward to what is to come, though the loss of those moving on can feel almost too significant. This summer comes with many anticipated fears, dreams, hopes and expectations. For many others the same could be said I am sure. So I’m sending out my good energies in loving form. I deeply believe that everything and everyone is interconnected through the One we live and breathe in. As long as we continue to keep our hearts and thoughts directed towards one another and let grace be our rule, the Atangard will continue to produce so many fruits of the soul. The eternal gratitude of those who worked these soils, planted us, and bled willingly for this place to flourish, must always be realized in our hearts. I owe so much to the creators, the builders, and the faces that have given me a space to be free and loved. Let us always be deeply rooted in the floor of this place because just like the earth, it is trustworthy. But let us also employ a strong spirit in our tribe, which for many may be gazing upon one another with the eyes of God’s heart.