Eight months ago in Boston I got on a train headed to Los Angeles to launch Abrahamic House, a multi-faith, co-living, co-creating social incubator in Koreatown. I was well aware my life was about to change, though I had no idea how much the rest of the world was about to be transformed as well.
My first day in LA was Ash Wednesday and as one of my first outings I headed to services at St. James in part because I could walk there and in part because it had been recommended to me as having a fine school and fantastic choir. Walking over I remember being filled with wonder at the possibilities of this new life: all the incredible restaurants and creative events I’d be able to go to with all these new people I was about to meet.
Since walking El Camino de Santiago, The Way of St. James across Spain, I’ve had a certain affinity for the patron of pilgrims and indeed found such comfort in the liturgy, architecture, and community of St. James in-the-City, for the few hours I was able to be inside its doors.
For, just a couple weeks after arriving, Gov. Newsom put in place the unprecedented stay-at-home order that has been our way of being in the world these past months, and I’ve found myself quarantined in a new city with a Muslim, a Jew, and a Baha’i who hardly know each other.
Our mandate had been to build a multi-faith community by hosting a regular schedule of events in our home: shared meals, and concerts, and intimate story exchanges. . . in other words, all the things that are now prohibited.
So, like so many other organizations, including St. James, we pivoted to Zoom for our programming, and have been able to reach more people from more places than we would have been able to if limited only to those willing to come to our Koreatown house. But building a community in virtual space, isn’t quite the same as being able to break bread together. . .
Outside of the house, one of my personal lifelines in LA has been St. James’s eYAPGES (Young Adult Prayer Group and Eating Society). Each month we gather on Zoom to share our joys and concerns and read Compline together, and month over month grow in caring knowledge for each other. In reality it matters little that we share geographic proximity, though the fact that the possibility of one day eating together does exist is a comfort.
My Abrahamic House fellowship will be drawing to a close in a few short months, and like all pilgrims journeying through a lenten season, can attest that the way has been hard.
But with each meeting of the eYAPGES and each socially-distanced outdoor dinner and each Shabbat in our backyard Sukkah, I’m starting to see glimpses of a new creation, previously unknown and only possible because I said yes.
Abrahamic House Fellow