Photo by Jackie Marko, Community Day

Hearts Filled in the Seas of Tallgrass Prairie

Friends from Atchison, Kansas City, Wichita, and Tulsa gather for a community day in Tallgrass Prairie Preserve

A few weeks ago, Atchison, Kansas City, Lawrence, Wichita, and Tulsa’s Communion and Liberation communities hiked in Kansas’ National Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. It was the first “official” CL event I have participated in outside of School of Community and the occasional Way of the Cross. I was struck by how easy it was to move in and out of conversations with these people who I had not met before. It felt more like a reunion of old friends than a meeting of new strangers.

Following the hike, we had lunch together and jumped into song. There I was singing songs I had never heard before off-tune along with the classics like “This Little Light of Mine”. I recall thinking, “how free this group is to sing ‘This Little Light of Mine’ without question!” And yet it came so naturally!

In the Exercises Fr. Lepori says, “when the teacher is present, does the heart of each person burn with fullness!” As a natural introvert, I exhaustedly departed from the group that evening, but my heart had been reawakened by and to the presence of Christ amongst us as friends. My heart was fully burning!

When Monday morning’s work coffee conversation turned to the weekend’s activities, I joyfully recalled how I had hiked with friends from Tulsa, Kansas City, Atchison, and Wichita.

Paul, Wichita, KS

Photo by Jackie Marko

At our Community Day I was firstly struck by the vast and wild beauty of the Flint Hills. The clouds, the sky that opens the horizon to the infinite, the herd of huge buffalo appearing as dots on another distant hill. “It is to something else that man pays homage...but he awaits another thing” (Leopardi).

I always seem to have a fear of going on the hike. Fear in so many things, and indeed last year someone had sunstroke in the fast wind and sun. This year there was a friend from Atchison who was older and who would normally be one worried about the hike, but he was so excited and had such a glad face while we gathered together preceding the hike. At one point we experienced fatigue and pain and different people asking to stop or wait, and this friend fainted. As I went from one friend to the next looking and seeing if anything might be needed, I saw a crowd around this man helping him and caring for him with great tenderness and attention. And I saw his own smile simply beaming with joy!

It was beautiful to see each person accompanied and walking arm in arm, to see the man who fainted finding a ride in the three-wheel stroller and smiling with delight surrounded by the vast beauty and friends who found a way to walk this hike together. We ended this beautiful day with witnesses and singing and mass in the small and very old church. All of us together, united and drawn by Him. This helps me experience that I belong to a people, a people on a journey. I am constantly being made a "You who makes me"!

Peggy, Lawrence, KS