“We Acknowledge Your Presence, Lord”

Meeting a Presence which draws attention to each other’s needs, Paul returns home with a new desire.

Last month, I attended my first Communion and Liberation Vacation with the Lower Midwest Region. I had previously experienced many other gestures of the Movement but had never been able to go on vacation because my region’s vacation time had not matched my schedule. Since the person who originally introduced me to the movement would be on this LMW vacation, I thought it would be a close second. Plus I had another friend who was interested in the Movement and this time worked well for him.

A few weeks prior to the trip, I was finalizing the details of our trip and was about to book a car when my friend who invited me told us not to get one. He said, “We will pick you up”. But I misunderstood: I thought “we” meant him and his family, but he meant the people in the Movement – the people who he shares his faith and his life with. I found out about my mistake when I arrived at the Nashville airport without a ride. My friend was willing to come to get us, but he was still trying to find someone else to help so his family wouldn’t have to drive two cars.

He eventually found a solution: Father Michael Carvill, also flying into Nashville, had volunteered to drive us. I had seen him speak at the New York Encounter and I was impressed by his words and his charism. He drove us and engaged us with a wonderful conversation. He opened his heart to us and asked us about our lives and we enquired about his. He made us feel like old friends catching up.

When we got to the spot of the vacation, we soon realized how far the lodging was from the daily activities. Without a car, we had an obvious limitation – we would be stuck at the hotel each day if we could not find someone to give us a lift. We asked for rides from strangers, from people who had no reason to welcome us. But we were welcomed.

Our soon-to-be friends did not hesitate to offer us rides and their company. They did not treat us like guests or outsiders, but as friends. They showed us hospitality that was not based on obligation or convenience, but on friendship. They helped us to experience a deep sense of belonging.

This changed me. It changed the way I looked at the Movement. This gesture moved me to discover a bond with an Other, it made me feel preferred. We helped care for the children of these former strangers, we helped prepare and shared in their meals, and we prayed and spent life together. And then they trusted us with their children’s lives, literally: they let us carry their children down dangerous hikes or blindfolded on our backs.

We ended up getting back to the airport to depart for home. But as chaos would have it, my flight was delayed so that I would miss my connection home. This meant I was destined to stay the night in the airport. But instead of using my backpack as a pillow on the floor of the cleanest airport in the nation, I called upon the help of a friend I had met on vacation. Not only did he respond with immense generous hospitality, but I had the privilege of going to the museum with his family to celebrate his daughter’s birthday prior to my flight.

In the last few years, I often thought about joining the Fraternity of CL, but my immediate thought has typically been, “What would I get out of it?” For now, I am still convinced that I will not experience the Movement differently as a Fraternity member, but this experience of being welcomed and of being given a sense of belonging has generated a new curiosity and openness in me. My new friends are authorities in my life that have inspired me to live a different way. It is because of them that since returning from the vacation I decided to ask to become a member of the Fraternity of CL. I did this because they welcomed me, not as a stranger, but as a friend. This all sprang from my limitation, my need that my now friends responded to.

Sunday’s Morning Prayer Intercessions reads: “Where two or three are gathered in Your name, we acknowledge Your presence, Lord, forgiving one another and attending to one another’s needs”. Many thanks to the Lower Midwest region for responding to this intercessory prayer. Thank you for allowing me to discover Christ’s presence dwelling amongst you. Thank you for attending to my needs, and generating me to attend to others’ in the Fraternity.

Paul, Wichita, KS