There are certain concepts or experiences that language cannot do justice – ‘Love’ and ‘God’ are prime examples. How each of us understands and interacts with these concepts or experiences is subjective and rooted in complex neurological networks making language a somewhat ineffective means of explaining them to others who have different understandings and experiences. In the same way, trying to articulate what Atangard means to me using language feels nearly impossible.
Initially, I find myself drawn to smaller experiences and memories. Atangard is group bike rides and samosas, cooking ridiculous amounts of food twice a month, emptying the dishwasher at the most inconvenient times and being okay with it, and waging war on moth infestations. It is countless conversations exploring the meaning of dreams, learning about our enneagram numbers, and critically examining our own social and environmental impacts. It is three and a half hour feelings meetings filled with tears, joy, and healing, taking part in the daily lives of our housemates, and supporting each other’s personal growth and endeavours.
On a broader level, Atangard is ‘family’ and ‘home’. My housemates have become a part of my family, and some of those bonds will last for the rest of my life. From these connections and this sense of community, an innate sense of home has emerged that reaches beyond the physical structure that houses us for the time being.
However, what Atangard means to me always seems to come back to a passage that I read in Henri Nouwen’s book ‘Reaching Out’ about how the goal of hospitality is creating a ‘friendly emptiness’. From my own experience, the community and hospitality of our community offers the ‘friendly emptiness’ that Nouwen refers to. This emptiness has allowed me a space “where [I] can enter and discover [myself] as created free; free to sing [my] own song, speak [my] own language, dance [my] own dance”.