Friends…and Faith.

First off. I feel proud of two recipes I developed, so I’m posting pictures:

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The first one is a filled cannoli cupcake. I make a chocolate cake recipe, baked the cupcakes, filled them with cannoli filling (including chocolate chips) and then filled mini cannoli and put them on top. GOURMET.

This past weekend, my mom and I drove to Sacramento to visit my sister who is in her general medicine rotation. We spontaneously drove to San Francisco and ate everything in site. On Sunday, we drove home, and I made a huge lasagna (pictured) and meatloaf so she could eat for the next month.

Thank you for humoring me. This week was also important because I officially accepted a position at Northeastern University, working in the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service. I am beyond excited (and nervous) to be a full-time college chaplain and interfaith advocate.

So I am spending my last days in LA for a while, and trying to hang out with as many of my friends as possible. I was reflecting on how my relationships formed with my closest friends, and whether our friendships had anything to do with faith. Faith is, of course, something I think about much of every day. My friends from the USC Interfaith Council of course relate to my faith directly- we met by talking about religion, spirituality, and matters of meaning. I have been wondering how my friendships from outside this community, namely, my friends from the Latino Business Student Association, have or have not formed around religious and spiritual values. At first glance, it seems religion has nothing to do with our relationships. But digging deeper, I think there is something to be said for family traditions.

In June, I traveled to Spain with two of my best friends Darlene and Veronica, despite my track record for bad luck while traveling (especially at airports). We arrived at 7 am in Madrid on a Sunday morning, and even though we felt pretty jetlagged, we set off on a self-guided walking tour of the city. On our way to the Royal Palace, we stopped inside the Cathedral de la Almudena, Madrid’s principal Catholic church. The cathedrals in Spain were all awe-inspiring, perhaps most especially La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, but in that first moment, I realized that my two friends standing next to me had something deep in common with me- we had all grown up in Catholic families, and this space meant more to us than a tourist attraction.

I met Veronica my first year of college when we took an international business course together at USC. We traveled to Beijing over spring break, visiting companies and some cultural sites. We stayed friends when we both joined the Latino Business Student Association, where I met Darlene. Since graduating from USC, the three of us have traveled together to watch USC games and on vacation.

Even though we all grew up in Catholic families, we practice differently. Though I consider myself a practicing Buddhist, I never “left” the Catholic church- you’ll find me in the balcony at midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Darlene reads at her church. Veronica has her own traditions. When we get together, the three of us rarely discuss theology. We do discuss our families and our communities quite a bit. We make fun of rituals we all know. This is what forms an underlying bond in our friendship- we understand ritual and how a faith community functions. Standing in the cathedral together, admiring the sacredness of the space, we understand that faith drives beauty, and we are grateful to receive it at that moment.

As I transition to living in Boston, I will remember this bond we have, and hope to find deep meaning with new friends. Perhaps it will not be related to falling asleep in church- but it may very well be embedded in a shared reverence for the sacred.

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