A few weeks back I joined an event by invitation of our Chief Analytics Officer. It was attended by a diverse set of people: former executives, young CEOs, founders of non-profits, and a few university students, to name a few, from fields like tech, marketing, business, and education. The goal was to create and foster meaningful connections and conversations within the intersections of our passions. We talked about restlessness and calling, of where we were and where we felt led to. Someone said then, referring to the character of the interactions and the shared desire to do something worthwhile: “I feel like being in this room with these people is like being in an alternative universe.”
It often feels as though I’ve been placed in a series of alternate universes. When I think about the people I’ve met and the kinds of communities and groups I’ve found myself part of, I’m always amazed by how seemingly lucky it was to have found those spaces. For example: the college programming varsity, a collection of nerds with a mutual love for food and code, who would willingly slave away eight hours a week to solve problems for fun. Another: recently I arrived at work, and one of the first things I said to my officemates was, “What does ‘Lord of hosts’ mean?” We discussed this over the pantry table before we began our workday. Over the past few weeks we’ve had conversations on everything from passion, intentionality, the Trinity, and spiritual gifts to pineapples, dead rats, and toilet misadventures.
In one such conversation, he said: “Salvation is grace upon grace.” So is life, I think.
There is a perpetual restlessness, but these days I am no longer anxious about where I am. I told her once, “[The man who begs Jesus in Mark 5:18] reminds me of the yearning to go where He goes, but also of how to stay and build homes with other people that testify to His love and greatness wherever we already are. Even if it isn’t always comfortable.”
Every step of the way is faithfulness. There are so many ways we could have gone and could go still, yet here we are. Isn’t this also a blessing?
My sister, after hanging out with one of my friends, said to me: “Ang refreshing niyang kasama. He’s one of those dying breeds.” When I asked her to elaborate she said she hadn’t met someone like that in a long time. I paused, pondered this quietly, and said simply, “Parang marami naman akong kilala.” She responded, “Iba naman kasi friends mo eh.”
Like these: when we meet again after two months, we talk about work briefly, but we quickly move from small talk to discussions on claustrophobic spaces, undesirable living arrangements, and strange mannerisms. They are inconsequential, unremarkable conversations: but how could we ever forget laughter? Monday first thing in the morning he approaches and says, “I brought you sandwich spreads.” Without warning and from miles away she sends me a selfie of herself making a funny face. The first time we see each other in over a year the first words he says to me are: “Still breathtaking.”
The relationships are honest and simple. When I doubt my decisions, I think of all the possible lives where I didn’t meet the people I’ve met: lit geeks who’d spend hours discussing poetry, workmates who’d teach me about reflectance and depreciation and SKUs, friends who would understand my metaphors without my needing to explain them. The imagined world is always a little less bright.
Sometimes it feels as though I’ve been placed in a series of alternate universes. But the truth is that of the many possible futures, I occupy this one. These alternate universes are my reality, and the thought of that overwhelms me with joy. Grace renders every morning full of light.
I think of Moses calling out, Lord, here am I.
How beautiful it is here.