Bali: Between Community and Friendship

I remember how LOG began.

Kong

Kong: Our 10th LoG Anniv. More than being just sentimental, I am truly thankful for how God has continually blessed our community and pulled us together. Am thankful for the growth and the sharing of lives and as we continue to journey, for community being that confluence of journeys together.

On 12 September 2004, our batch met up the day after Confirmation. We sat in a big circle, with Youth Works (as they were then, now MSC) facilitating our discussion. Everyone was excited, everyone was on fire. But the discussion was going nowhere.

Justin

Justin: This was when LoG celebrated my 21st birthday by kidnapping me… back to my own house. And we had a big sharing. It was really nice because it was a feeling of community. In some sense forcing their way into my life and quite literally into my house.

Someone stood up then and took charge. “Let’s start by thinking of a name,” he said.

Jeremy

Jem: LoG is full of weird people.

Our facilitators then gently suggested that a name was perhaps not the most important thing for a community, and so we went on to discuss other things. But that scene—of that someone standing up when no one else would take charge, putting himself out there for community, risking and realizing the embarrassment of that first bad idea—etched itself in my memory. And because I remember that scene, I remember that someone, and thus I remember how LOG began.

jess.jpg

Jess: I’m thankful for our commitment and faithfulness to breaking the Word every Friday. It builds our love for scripture and helps us to grow in our capacities to listen to both God and other.

That someone has left LOG. He hopes that we can still embrace each other as friends in the future.

Poey

Poey: LoG participating in the bigger 1Cor12 mission.

These are photos that various loggers submitted for our Bali Retreat (except for the featured picture), depicting aspects of community that we were thankful for. Soo, of course, wrote an essay—he ended also with a hope for “real” friendship.

Soo

Soo: I remember rushing from seminary on a Sunday to meet LOG for lunch at Two Chefs as part of our CNY Celebrations. This photo is meaningful not because it is particularly nice (look at Hilda lol), or has significance in and of itself, but because it reminds me of what ran through my mind when I was on the way there. I remember thinking: these people don’t care that I’m a seminarian. They are unfazed that I may be going to be a priest one day. Even if they do, they don’t act like they do. They are not going to treat me differently, or in any special, exclusive way. They just love me for who I am, having seen me for who I was. That made me realise how grateful and blessed I am to have LOG in my life. It is truly home – a place where I can come back to rest and to be myself, after a long time away in formation and in ministering to others. Thank you for holding space for me, each of you in your own little way. I hope this doesn’t change – seminarians and priests need real friends too, ones who see them as they are.

What does it mean to be a ‘friend’? There was a time I had thought I knew the answer; Jes, Liu, and I had discussed this exact same question after exhausting Waterbom’s rides. But I find that I am no closer to any clear definition of this word—so nebulous, so mercurial, so ephemeral.

Tang Jes

Tang: I like this picture, other than the fact this is the best I have looked in LOG photos, it reminds me of a shared experience. The sharing is more important than whether the experience was fun, boring, frustrating or out of this world. I remember the LOG retreat after WYD, I shared about how frustrating the experience can be, only to find out that the others felt the same way about it. The washing of feet with each other was how the shared experience came full circle and etched in one’s heart and soul. So I thank God for the journey and the shared experiences!

If friendship is ill-defined, then the line between community and friendship is even more so, as blur as the one between a retreat and a holiday. During this retreat, we played Werewolf until 4AM and squeezed onto a giant unicorn floating in the pool. During this holiday, we shared about the serpents in our lives and permeated one house with incense from our makeshift Divine Office altar. Are we friends or are we community?

Tang Jes

Jes: [Yes, they chose the same picture.] As part of His church, each one of us has a mission – a mission that is beautiful and exciting, real and specific. We are called to sow with our life, the seeds of something worthwhile. And if we are able to let the gospel awaken in us a passion for God and his world, then all will indeed be new.

The ideal answer, of course, is that we are both. But the truth is shadier: being friends and being in community are two distinct circles, and the ideal only exists in an intersection that is as transient as our identities and our relationships.

Shaun

Liu: Proof that I knew LoG before I knew Jes. I’m grateful for all the Loggers that I’ve met in all walks of life! From school, army, SOW and so on. Thank you for being a part of my life and for continuing to be.

And that distinction matters. That distinction means that we can be friends even with those who are no longer in community and that we can be in community with those who are no longer friends.

Edward

Edward: I’m thankful for my brothers and sisters, for sharing and struggling together vulnerably, for accepting and giving regardless whom, and for laughing and crying.

In theory, this should be trite; but in fact, 1Cor12’s history is replete with members who leave because of ruptured friendships and friends who drift because they have left community.

Grace

Grace: I thank God for giving a place that I can belong to knowing that I have the support of this community behind me even in tough times even though I may not be present consistently. I am also thankful to be able to journey together and be inspired and learn from others to improve my relationship with God. Thank you LOG for bringing joy into my life and making me feel loved.

And we get this. We understand—and many of these photos extol—this tight correlation between community and friendship. In journeying together, it is these moments of intersection, these mergers of retreats and holidays, these collisions between gossamer and amber that we treasure the most.

Andrew

Drew: One of my fondest memories of LoG was being surprised on my 21st birthday. Being surrounded by all these important people in my life made me feel incredibly blessed and felt like I belonged.

Correspondingly, the loss feels greatest when we exit the intersection. And while we can choose to exit only the intersection, being so proximate to that loss is painful, and that pain can drive us to exit even the circle.

Sarah

Sarah: [She didn’t write anything, nor did she share during the retreat. But she did take some scary rides with us at Waterbom.]

But perhaps I am being too legalistic about definitions, circles, and lines. A few days ago, I listened to First Love during my morning prayer, and I was reminded that even before community, before friendship, even before I love God, God loves me first. Knowing that, feeling that, grounding myself in that Love—that matters the most. I can be alienated from any social circle, and I will still be unable to escape the universal set of God’s love.

Germaine

Germaine: I thank God for leading me to LoG, which has been wind beneath my wings; an invisible force gently supporting and lifting me (in the sense of helping me to be a better an more complete person).

All other subsets are porous in comparison. And if our definitions are loose enough to allow departure, then the reverse must hold true: friends can become community members and members can become friends, again, if need be.

Greg

Greg: Communion in the airport, hospital bed, funeral parlour, session room, Bali, Swee’s house, hospice front porch, church aisle and everywhere else is more than possible. These are the moments that remind me that community is not a fluffy ideal or concept but a reality rooted in our lives of love.

After all, if founders can leave, surely leavers can find.

Mel

Mel: It says something about our rootedness that so many of us can wander off in different directions and find our way back home to LOG again. That hearth, that freedom to explore, and then that excitement to meet you guys again after being away―that is what I am thankful for.

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About Mel

I dreamt I was a whale. https://melvynfoo.wordpress.com/about-mel/