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A Night With the Bay Ridge Band

Lisa recounts her path to the Movement through the Bay Ridge Band

The Bay Ridge Band

When the Bay Ridge Band played on Saturday day night at New York Encounter, they kept mentioning when they had first sung together “twenty years ago.” It is natural at a band reunion to recall the origins of the group, that original and precious explosion of joy.


I met the Movement twenty years ago on a vacation in Vermont where the Bay Ridge Band played. That joy was a huge part of the tremor that happened in my heart that weekend in which my entire experience was one of “communion.” To be truthful, this was the very word I used at the time. This is how I understood (and still understand) it: the friendship that God offers is incarnated in real friends. The eternal party above is meant to be already experienced here below in real parties. I fell in love with the Bay Ridge Band and in my heart became a groupie. We bought all the CD’s and brought them home to Michigan with us.


This began a very long ten-year period in which I attempted to follow the Movement from afar. We were nowhere near a school of community. When we moved to central New York five years later, I was not much closer to the action. We came to some vacations, to the Encounter, and I kept (sporadically) reading Traces. The one constant in these many years—and this I only realized the other night—was that we were always listening to those CD’s. An almost daily event in our household was the dance party as we cleaned up after dinner. We were and are a family that loves to sing and dance. And the Bay Ridge Band was always on the playlist.


Two of my children were in attendance the other night: one actually at the concert, the other watching the live-stream from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Both had the identical immediate reaction. My daughter Clare who was there came up to me afterwards with tears in her eyes: “These were the songs of my childhood!” My other daughter Mary sent a simple text: “My childhood😊”


It was not a small thing.


The fact is that for several years, these songs were our family’s primary means of belonging to the Movement. At the Manhattan Center the other night, I could not but be struck by the ways that God had been long laying down the tracks of my affection, setting the scene for the beauty of that night.


At a certain point in my long journey to the Movement, listening to those CD’s was making me very sad—I had nostalgia for that vacation and wondered if I could ever “make contact” with a CL community in the flesh. This was, of course, a great thing. It propelled me forward. In 2011, I got up the nerve to start my own School of Community, and from that time it has always been a rising tide.


Now I am friends with most of the Bay Ridge Band: they are in my fraternity group! So, of course, I know they are fallible human beings. I have no stars in my eyes.


And yet, I do.


Thank you, Jonathan, Riro, Chris, Valentina, Caz, and Molly (and Fr. Rich!) for all you have given us!


Lisa, Rochester, New York




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