Community pictures are an ACE standard. They're taken in the middle of the summer, uploaded onto the ACE website weeks after, and, sometime at the beginning of the school year, they make their way home to their respective communities, where they will hang on the wall for years to come. So with much thought and creativity, ACE communities find a location on campus, choose a community pose, smile, and say cheese. Then, they wait.
After scrolling through Pinterest family poses and taking screen shots of the ones we liked the most, ACE Brownsville decided on the "jumping in the air, half smiling, half screaming, not sure what to do with my arms" pose. If all else failed, we could always count on the "sorority" pose. We must have taken the picture four or five times. Each time, we climbed up the step and jumped off, hoping that someone's face wouldn't be hidden by the sunlight or that we would all be in the air at the same time. Not entirely convinced that we got it right, we took a picture in our "sorority" pose just in case. Then, we waited.
The picture on the top is the photo ACE uploaded to its website. It is the picture that is now framed and hanging on our wall. For years to come, ACE Brownsville communities will look at our picture and know that there was love in our home. And, it is true; there is love in our home. But, the picture on the bottom will forever be my ACE Brownsville community; it captures the nuances of our ACE Brownsville personalities and the transformative nature of living in community.
In this picture, you see Sarah with her arms wide open, ready to take you just as she found you. She made her way into your life with God's love and wisdom because only He knew that she's exactly what you needed in order to feel and know that every bit of you is divinely made and eternally loved.
Next to Sarah is Brett. While his arms are cautiously in the air, carefully avoiding bumping into mine, his face just radiates energy and positivity. When you need it most, his positive energy brings you back to life. He reminds you that you are alive and that that is reason enough to rejoice.
Next to me is Brian. With one quick glance, you see his legs are kicked back in a playful manner and his face is staying true to his calm and cool composure. In stressful moments, he brings perspective, reminding you that you are indeed a human being and subject to mistakes.
Amanda is up next to Brian. Immediately, you notice the excitement on her face. When you come to her with crazy and complicated ideas for school projects, it is her excitement that reassures you, reminding you that there are other people out there who have crazy and complicated ideas too.
Gabriel hovers in the air with a full blown karate chop. He is a wonder to witness in action. Few others can contain such dynamic character, yet he does it quite gracefully. You have no choice but to simply watch and learn.
On the right, you see Liz. One look at her and your soul is reinvigorated. Her passion for life is a testament to living life fully. She truly lives to love and loves to live. She gives and asks for nothing in return. And, in your heart, you know that you will forever be a better person for having known her.
Living in community transforms you slowly and all at once. It is a transformation that no picture will ever be able to capture, but my ACE Brownsville community photo comes pretty close.