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How Jen's fascination for capturing the Movement's "beating heart" led to the revival of the CL USA Instagram account.

In 2013, I shaved my possessions down to what fit into my two-door Honda Civic and drove from my home in Denver to Seattle, Washington. I had a new Instagram account and a new life ahead. I was attending graduate school to become a marriage and family therapist and delightedly exploring my new haunts. I posted photos of the cuisines I savored (Vietnamese first-timer), ample vegetation (they use lettuces as greenery here!), and coffee (it’s a “thing” on Instagram). I also remained connected with friends back home and found creative inspiration through my Instagram account.

I had started attending School of Community in Denver just four months prior and arrived in Seattle curious about the Communion and Liberation people who awaited me. The man Msgr. Luigi Giussani and his approach to life fascinated me. He seemed to imbue the somewhat tired and rigid faith I’d been living with a spark of livelihood and wonder. I’d attend School of Community with a notebook and fill pages with phrases that caught my breath and doodles and drawings that seemed to be the overflow of the life I was seeing.

Eventually, I posted some of my doodles and quotes on Instagram using the hashtag #communionandliberation. My friends and followers liked them, and I was happy to share my life beyond graduate school. As a result of this hashtag, an Italian woman in the Movement started following my account all the way from northern Italy, and a GS student in the midwest became a friend as well. Through little interactions with them--sharing a piece of delightful art, offering a word of encouragement, commenting on the current SoC text--I began to see how far the Movement and the words and method of Giussani can reach.

This past February we got talking in our newsletter meeting about reviving a CL Instagram account to help capture and share the life of the Movement in the U.S., and I leapt from my seat, offering to help. In that moment, I remembered my friends from years ago and the way the breadth of the Movement became real to me through those encounters on Instagram. I remembered how Instagram gave me a place to share the beauty that surrounds me, including my new relationship with the Movement.

But I also knew this CL U.S.A. Instagram account would be different. There’s no way for one person alone to capture the nuance and life of the Movement here in the U.S.; I would need friends looking with me.

I agreed to help, though, hoping that it would become clear how my desire for companionship would be answered. A month after that, Madi joined the newsletter team, and when we got to talking about the up-and-coming account at a meeting, Madi enthusiastically offered to help! We talked on the phone soon after, and I was struck by Madi’s long relationship with the Movement and her love for words. She was full of ideas and enthusiasm and a desire for bringing forward the many aspects of the Movement throughout the U.S.

On the call we started talking about the thrill of running into a friend at a coffee shop who inspires us, changes our day, or helps us see things for what they really are, an opportunity to encounter the Mystery. Our hope is for the Instagram account to be like a little coffee shop run-in, a reminder and surprise of beauty, meaning, and hope in the course of someone’s day.

We’re just one month into our Instagram journey. As part of our work together, Madi and I captured and shared the unprecedented format of the Fraternity Exercises, inviting followers to share where they’re joining from. For that weekend I saw again the breadth and depth of the Movement’s reach and the beating heart of the movement in the U.S. and abroad. It helped me see more clearly the work of God in our companionship.

As this project continues, I invite you to visually share the life of the Movement where you are by tagging us at @communion_and_liberation_USA or using the hashtag, #communionandliberationUSA.

Jen, Seattle, Washington


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