A New Day

Joey shares his experience of attending the National Assembly in Estes Park, CO.

This weekend my wife and I attended the North American Assembly in Estes Park, Colorado. Although I received the proposal to go with unusual simplicity, my typical and tired postures of reticence and doubt about my place took over as the weekend approached. I questioned why I was going, and thought about ways to delay my arrival by a day.

But we showed up, and just in time for the introduction. At the introduction, Fr. Michael told us that we were all there without prerequisites. Those words — without prerequisite — echoed during the whole event.

While they echoed, I recalled a recent experience with my five-year-old, Oscar. A couple weeks ago, he had some behavioral issues that his teacher told us about. Those issues lasted throughout his day at school, and continued through the evening. He spent his time going back and forth between acting out and isolating himself.

We could tell he was embarrassed, but couldn’t get past how “bad” things had gone that day. He couldn't let himself be with us, despite what he wanted. When we put him to bed, my wife told him that tomorrow would be a new day. He didn’t fall asleep. He got up after a while and asked, “Will tomorrow be a new day for everyone?” Yes. And then he asked, “Will anyone at school remember that today I had a bad day?“ Maybe. But it doesn’t matter because it is still a new day.

Over the weekend I experienced a new day. There was no prerequisite for me to see it other than saying “yes”, and opening my eyes to the faces and proposals that surrounded me. When, at the Assembly, I saw Father John for the first time in over 10 years, I remembered the time I had with him and others in Minnesota, and I remembered how I was then. I told my wife that I was sad because I was reminded that I used to be freer, even more courageous. But I had the opportunity either to see only that, or I could see something else, too. When I looked at Fr. John, I also saw the hundred-fold blossoming in him, and re-inviting me.

Although I was sad, I am free now because there is no prerequisite to my “yes”. Fr. Michael’s words took over as the response to my (and my 5-year old’s) question about belonging. At the Assembly, just by paying attention, I got to test whether there was some prerequisite I hadn’t satisfied. After the Assembly, I can say: This day is imbibed with the New Dawn, who I can see just by opening my eyes. I pray to remember and to verify it with my friends.

Thank you to everyone who said yes to putting on the Assembly, and to everyone who sacrificed to be there.

Joey, Littleton, CO