One of the things I really enjoyed was the activities we did together. They were fun as a group and could also be connected to real life. One activity had a leader and a follower, where the follower always had to keep their face in front of the other's hand. We even made a bigger system, with each follower having followers while they faced the person in front of them, up until the leader who was facing them all. We practiced strategies to disrupt the system of power, whether it was not following the hand or just walking away. We practiced saying stop and taking the place of the follower. We got to do this in Soulforce so we can be ready and aware when we are in the outside world.
I never really realized how important food was and its true potential until I shared the experience with this group of people at Soulforce. To be honest I was a bit dubious about not sharing conversations with one another and the only exchanges that would occur were stories relating to food. During dinner at home, I would often avoid social media as I’d try to fill in the voids with the bustling news that occurred in places too far from home. But as more individuals shared their snapshots with food, it really made me realize the power it has over our culture and values. Hearing he smallest stories of remembering and honoring someone who used to be there to appreciating the smallest gifts of someone’s presence made me almost sorrowful for not properly utilizing the time in the past. So many times had I missed out on the opportunities to exchange wisdom and gain new insights about people as well as the world around me. The simple 30 minutes of lunch made me truly appreciate the art of storytelling and how food is able to bring so many different backgrounds together.
On Thursday we were spreading kindness in the park by handing out flowers to strangers. It made me so happy to see the smile on people’s faces as I handed them the bouquet of purple and yellow flowers. One woman that I gave flowers to was video chatting with her mother who was in China. When I handed the bouquet to her I put a smile on both her and her mother’s face. Another fellow asked me if I wanted to join her to the Jesuit Retreat Center that was a ten minute walk from the park. After the exhausting up hill walk I finally saw the gorgeous retreat. The two of us walked up a flight of stairs and was met with what seemed to be a courtyard. We walked around the retreat, offering flowers to everyone we met, but one woman’s kindness will stay in my heart. When we offered her a flower she was so thankful and asked us our names. We got into a long conversation with her about how she came to attended the retreat and her life as a nun. This experience filled my heart with happiness, I would definitely love to continue to do acts of kindness like this in the future.
Thursday was probably one of my favorites. I really think that this day was awesome and we did really awesome things. Walking throughout the park and finding trees was amazing and I was taken aback by the breathtaking views. I think that this day was beautiful and fun. Our lunch was really good and delicious, I really wanted to eat more of it. During the Random Acts of Kindness really inspired me, I could not think of a better way of putting myself out there and meeting new people. This day at Shoup Park was definitely something I could never forget. Getting to connect with my fellows was even more amazing too. I’m so glad Soulforce has given me more reason and opportunities to put myself out there
As someone who has graduated high school, I have been growing up and learning about the world a bit more as I venture outside "the nest." Before entering Soulforce, I had gone through a change in my actions by being politically active and canvassing despite being extremely shy. However, I have found that knowledge alone has not been sufficient in my day to day life and desire to help build a better world. The feelings of fear, hopelessness, and anger have manifested in my behavior. Defensiveness and a combative attitude have reinforced weakness in communication.
Soulforce gave me a safe environment to be secure in myself and introduce me to the practice of listening with my heart. Right now I feel like still a beginner, I am just beginning to change my attitude and behavior towards one of kindness and non-judgement. However, with the skills and ways on nonviolence I feel the strength to become vulnerable and reach out to others and accept that I don't have all the answers. I hope to connect with others and create an environment where we can all find hope and the belief in our capability to add to the pool of knowledge and realize our intrinsic worth as human beings.
My brain did a lot of stretching and I think it is for the better.