We Are Each Other’s

This past week we opened with a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks. The last three lines have stuck with me:

We are each other’s harvest.

We are each other’s business.

We are each other’s magnitude and bond.

On the surface, Brooks’ poem seemed easy to understand: people in community reap the benefits of each other, hold each other accountable, and are interconnected and thus strong. But the poem carried the sort of power that gave me pause. I want to unpack it as a way to explore the extent to which we are “doing community” at Young Adult Group.

Harvest

At this last meeting in particular, I felt we were living out the line “we are each other’s harvest.” As we talked about how we continue to fall in love with each other again and again and noticed aloud the quirks that make the people in this group so endearing to us, our delight felt like a harvest.

But is there more to harvest? Harvest implies previous growth and even transformation as buds bloom and later turn to fruits. Has witnessing someone else’s personal or spiritual growth felt so intimately close that it has felt like other people’s own harvest? I, at least, feel that this type of harvest is one that I’m still hoping to find at Young Adult Group.

Business

This is the word I wrestled with the most. Do we really want to be in each other’s business? Doesn’t that mean we’re crossing each other’s boundaries? Or are we just talking about accountability?

To answer these questions, I decided to identify what it is I usually think of as “my business.” I realized I usually define it as my biggest “work” in life: my own personal growth. I was reminded of Adrienne Maree Brown’s thoughts on liberated relationships, particularly her writings on people she term her “woes” (her Working on Excellence partners).  She says woes are “people who know [your] north star, who know your challenges, and who hold [you] accountable to your own development, celebrating [your] self-awareness and growth […] It’s friendship with a lot of transparency and intention woven into it.”

If we use Brown’s description of woes to define Brook’s idea of being each other’s business, I’m not sure we are there yet at Young Adult Group, though I do get the sense that we are committed enough to each other that we have the potential to be.

Magnitude and Bond

I like the idea of thinking of ourselves as each other’s magnitude. So often I gravitate toward thinking about capacity, the limits of what is possible. But even though magnitude has a definite size (at least in the scientific sense of measuring the brightness of stars), the greatness of that size suggests that what we’re talking about is abundance, not scarcity.

I’m also intrigued by Brook’s syntax. She says “We are each other’s magnitude,” not “we give each other magnitude” or “we determine each other’s magnitude.” By using the verb “to be,” Brooks suggests that when people are in community, there is an intermingling of identities, a blurring of boundaries that separate one person from the next. I wonder, if we truly understood that we are each other’s magnitude, what would that do to our own self-consciousness? How could you ever feel inadequate if your magnitude is derived from your community?

Or perhaps Brooks just wanted a certain cluster of words next to each other:

We are each other’s.

We are each other’s.

We are each other’s.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I feel grateful both for the community we’ve already built at Young Adult Group and for the opportunity to continue to fully understand what it means to be each other’s harvest, business, magnitude, and bond.

3 Replies to “We Are Each Other’s”

  1. I love the quote from Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem! I also love the connection you made to Adrienne Maree Brown’s term “woes” (Working on Excellence partners) and her description of woes, especially the phrase “people who know [your] north star”.
    Since I read this post, I have been pondering Brooks’ lines: “We are each other’s harvest. We are each other’s business. We are each other’s magnitude and bond.” I can’t help but think of the world community. We must be the harvest for those who have no means to feed and care for themselves and their families. The poor are our business. We cannot reach our magnitude if we ignore the needy. “For it is in giving that we receive.” Francis of Assisi

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  2. Wow. I appreciate this structure both for digging deeper into Brooks’ impactful poem and for opening up space for reflection and a meta conversation on where we are at in Young Adult Group overall!

    Not surprisingly, the section that holds the most energy for me is Business since you related it to woes (amb got this term from Drake). Ever since reading adrienne maree brown’s description of woes, I’ve felt an intense longing for woes. I agree that Young Adult is not yet that for me, and I think we could become this too. I want woes in my life, but (in fear of being too focused on my individual desire) is that what we, Young Adult Group, want to become?

    re: “How could you ever feel inadequate if your magnitude is derived from your community?”
    I found myself saying this week that I am only whole in community. It came from a True place, but afterwards I was stunned. I have believed for a long time that I need to find my wholeness within myself, not rely on my relationships to feel whole. But if our souls are interconnected, if “we are each other’s” (could the next word be anything?), how can we be whole and connected to the Holy outside of communion? If we were able to be whole as individuals, self-help books would have saved us, but they haven’t. At this point, it’s necessary for me to practice non-dualistic thinking, because being each other’s magnitude, being whole in community, does not make me inadequate or unworthy. Actually, I feel much more capable, and coincidentally whole, because I then understand it’s not my unique fallibility that I need others; community is a human necessity. Interconnectedness is different from co-dependency. Being whole in community is different than becoming someone else. Can we practice coming and going and coming back again to ourself, to our community?

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    1. “I am only whole in community…” Yes! That makes perfect sense. I feel the most lost, the most dissatisfied with myself and my life when I feel isolated and don’t have time to maintain relationships. I love how you connected this to our souls being connected!

      I especially love the line in the poem “We are each other’s magnitude and bond”. As a special education teacher, parent, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and member of the human race, I think of the deep satisfaction and joy of lifting people up. That’s when I soar, too.

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