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To all those who have been vulnerable with me,

I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your insights, raw emotions, and shared solidarity have had a huge impact on my life.

The concept of radical vulnerability is something that I have been consciously working on during my time in Budapest. In a city where people are so transient, you have to be willing to connect in a real way from the very beginning of a friendship – you often don’t have any time to waste. And you understood this.

Radical vulnerability makes a lot of people very uncomfortable, including myself sometimes, and it’s not something that’s always easy to do. In fact, more often than not, it’s a challenge – but it’s also something that I’m very intentional about and I try to work through.

I don’t even know if you are aware of the power of your vulnerability and presence, things that our society tells us are at odds – that we cannot be vulnerable if we want to be powerful, and yet my moments with you were powerful in ways that I cannot even begin to describe.

Having the courage to be radically vulnerable with folks, to be truly present and in the moment with them, opening yourself up in an authentic way, sharing life stories and all the joys and pains that come with it, that’s a rare gift. It’s something that I have been practicing for two years now and that I still struggle with, but I continue on because you are here in the midst of the struggle with me.

In my days at Kalunba, Sunday’s at St. Columba’s, and my free time around the city, many spectacular human beings have honored me with their vulnerability. Sometimes it happens on a Friday afternoon when we’re coloring, other times it’s a conversation at a church picnic, and often it is totally spontaneous.

I’ve learned that vulnerability takes work, but when I put in the effort and cultivate an authentic space for people to be themselves, the openness comes flooding out. I think we all crave moments like this, permission to be fully and unabashedly ourselves, and I am truly blessed to have shared so many of these moments with you.

So to all those who have bared your souls to me, cried as you told me your stories, sat in silence and solidarity with me, invited me into your homes, and hugged me as though you never wanted to let me go – I thank you. It is because of you and your openness that I continued to be vulnerable, in the midst of a city that is sometimes harsh and unyielding. Each time I wanted to close myself off, when I thought that would be easier, someone would come to me and show a piece of their soul. These glimpses of your truest self made me push through and continue my efforts to be radically vulnerable.

You kept me going.

Without even knowing it, you challenged me and vindicated my inner struggle to stay soft. You changed me and molded me in ways I never knew were possible.

You gifted me an extraordinary piece of you each time you had the bravery to be vulnerable with me, and I hope that I gave a piece of myself in return.

That’s the magic of this whole thing – when you truly open yourself up to someone, you also give a piece of you up. You let a little bit of you go, but you do so in trust, knowing that what you get in return will be so much more filling than what you let go of. And it’s absolutely beautiful.