Music is Community

Tears well up in my eyes as the voices of people I love wash over me. Even as I pick out individual timbres, I hear one unified song coming from friends who are like family to me…

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Taiwan is an island (I am not an island)

After a whirlwind of a week, I have been made aware of many beautiful things

  1. God’s grace sustains us
  2. I come from a family of servant hearts
  3. It is an unspeakable joy and blessing to have “forever friends”
  4. I can make mistakes and still succeed
  5. You can never have too much bread. 🙂

I could probably go on and on about the remarkable blessings I have experienced this week, but I don’t want to bore anybody! I just wanted to write a post to thank those who have supported me, to express my praise to God, and to reflect on more life-changing moments.

The other night I heard a piece from John Donne’s Meditation XVII – No Man Is An Island. [As a poet, Donne holds a special place in my heart. A few years ago, I had poems from his Holy Sonnets memorized and they changed my life and my spirituality at the time. Death, be not proud is a particularly meaningful one to me and I’m still drawing understanding from it.]

No Man Is An Island is written in reference to mankind, but today it speaks to me on a much more personal level.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

I am not my own, I belong to the whole. I belong to God’s family. I belong to the relatives who lift me up and call me loved. I belong to the friends who have been part of my journey, even those whose paths went in a different direction than mine. I belong to musicians, composers, and mentors who guided my steps. And I belong to those whom I serve and encourage and motivate, as they do the same for me. I am not an island.

Although it is easy to get caught up in our own priorities, our own struggles, and our own goals, it is important to remember that we are traveling this road of life together. That none of us should cut ourselves off from the guidance, love, and companionship we give and receive from one another. That the joys and sorrows of others affect us and our lives affect theirs.

I am drawn to Romans 12:15 – “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” It is not always easy to put yourself in another’s shoes, but we are called to do so as followers of Christ and as members of mankind.

I have done my fair share of rejoicing and mourning this week, but I was surrounded by loved ones and surrounded by God’s love through all of it. We held on to each other and held on to Him and made it through the weekend. I could NOT have done it on my own. And I wouldn’t have wanted to.

I thank God for all of the people he has put into my life and I am grateful he created us to be in community with one another (Genesis 2:18Psalm 133:1, Romans 12:4-5, Galatians 6:2). I thank my friends, family, and loved ones for helping me through a weekend I will never forget. And I thank the people who have submitted themselves to the idea that we are to be servants of others, not islands belonging to ourselves.

In a couple of months, I’ll be going to the island of Taiwan. I’ll be in a different country, experiencing a different culture, and I will be a foreigner, but I will still not be alone. I will be supported by prayers from home and surrounded by the love of my team, but I will also be forming new relationships with the people I meet.

At last night’s LST session, we talked about how our English conversations/readings are built around the idea of building one-on-one relationships with the readers. It is not a teacher-student relationship, but one of friendship – full of openness, trust, and sincerity. Opening the doors of communication and having a connection with someone is the only way to reach out in a meaningful way. In other words, I must make a link between myself and another person. I must make myself available to them and meet them where they are at. I must refuse to be an island.

I encourage anyone, no matter his or her situation, to be grateful for the influential people that are found in the everyday – and the extraordinary – moments. Allow them to be a part of your life and reach out to be a part of theirs. Do not see yourself as an island.

I have experienced a lot this week, but I am most grateful for the people who experienced it alongside me.

I am not an island

Thanks to Steddon Sikes for the photo!