It was only two days, but it felt like everyone I met was family.
We went straight to the temple where I was supposed to talk for an hour and a half on the merits of serving others. Somehow the words found their way from this neo-cortex, through the microphone, through gas and dust, onto ears and into hearts. I shared stories about the beginnings of Be the Cause. I told them my own story which somehow was also their story. We were all searching for something deeper in our lives and somehow we were all led to this same moment. I shared with them the stories I had heard, of a universe so vast that it was incredible and yet its magnificence didn’t trump the size of our own tiny little hearts.
In moments I could feel myself tearing up as I remembered the story of a little homeless boy we met one night in India. At times when I looked up, I found that my tears were somehow falling off the face of someone else. At times we all laughed simply because the words that were coming out seemed so ridiculous.
A few aunties took copious notes, but I knew that what I was saying was already known to them, and more importantly was already written in their hearts: That all we need is the courage to give, and in that moment the entire universe opens up for us.
Afterwards they asked questions. About my life. About how certain projects came together. Someone asked about finances, someone always does. Someone asked about happiness, and yes I admitted, it can be cultivated.
She came up to me afterwards stating that for a moment she felt she wasn’t alone. She cried for a moment standing there with me, I felt it too, that kinship, that togetherness, that love in the room. It made me a little strong and a little weak at the same time standing there in that temple. A little honored and also a little unworthy to be receiving such emotion.
A few of my new friends wanted to sit in silence so that we could end the afternoon the same way we started it. Fifteen minutes rolled by and it seemed as if more was shared in those silent moments than in the hours prior.
Later that night, when a few of my new friends decided to drop by after dinner, I would discover that they were serving much more than they had led me to believe. We discussed ongoing projects and brainstormed new ways of getting people engaged. We planned for the next day, where a repeat performance was requested for a younger audience.
The next day, I sat in front of kids and adults alike. The stories and the accompanying jokes seemed to work a second time around. Even the QnA felt similar, except this time the questions were more personal. I realized that every family is the same, they are all concerned about my marital status. Being single has allowed me some freedom, sure, but sharing stories of my married couple friends that do more together than separate quickly brought the point home: wherever you are, however you are, you can serve.
The drive home was rejuvenating. I felt as if I was leaving home to return home. Thank you San Diego. If anyone is interested in connecting with the Jain Community of San Diego please send me an email.