2016 has been a year of reclamation, self-ownership, and renewal for me in ways that I never would have imagined. I rang in the new year with surrounded by my family in my aunt’s home in Puerto Rico. I was a Hindu convert in a family of Roman Catholics. I was a practicing priest and the founder of an affinity group for LGBTQ+ Hindus. As out of place as it seemed on paper, I couldn’t have imagined life any other way.
Then, the rug was pulled from underneath me.
My faith no longer made sense to me, and I could no longer reconcile my doubts. After leaving the Hindu community in February I didn’t anticipate returning to my Christian roots after 10+ years of being away from church, yet, here we are. I found the Episcopal Church to be a place where I could practice the catholic faith of my upbringing without needing to check any part of myself at the door.
This was probably the biggest transition of the year for me, and I’m still feeling the ripples of it, still trying my best to unpack what it all means. It’s going to take a long, long time to really process this, but all I can say for now is that I feel integrated for the first time in a very long time.
That sense of wholeness has also come about through the personal work of decolonizing my mind and really honoring, celebrating, and owning my culture. I spent a good amount of the last decade feeling really isolated from my culture. Part of that is theological, owing to the tension between body and spirit that existed in my previous faith community; part of it is also being socialized and educated in predominantly white schools and internalizing a lot of whiteness. I want to write about this in more detail soon and deconstruct this a bit, but for now I will say the work I’ve this year has been incredibly transformative and healing.
This year also really reminded me of how important my relationships are and how sometimes I can take them for granted. Leaving a faith community, graduating college, moving to a new city – all of these things disrupted my relationships. I grew apart from some folks and had to end friendships. I had to develop a whole new social circle. I had to really examine the kinds of folks I let get close to me. I started to really reflect on how I show up in my relationships with other people, and where I fell short. But now, more than ever, I feel surrounded by immensely beautiful people who I love and who love me. And that’s a beautiful thing.
One of my cousins said to me that recently I’m more confident and that I’ve really “come alive”. While I still have a lot of anxiety, lots of self-doubts, lots of oh-my-God-what-is-my-life-anymore moments, I definitely do feel alive. Like I was hiding who I really was under layer-upon-layer and now I’ve finally burst through into the light. Thanks be to God for that.
Friends, I hope you can say goodbye to 2016 and welcome 2017 surrounded by folks who love you. All the best for this new year.