Home: The Place Where Life Begins
Fr. José Medina shares his experience of the NYC Beginning Day.
The Beginning Day I shared with friends in New York was a beautiful moment for me, personally. It was an event, something that happened to me, that moved me. I went back home, changed.
I experienced that place as a place for me; as a place that was waiting for me. I saw this was a place waiting for my person -- attending to my person. I saw this also in others who were coming, even for the first time. They were welcomed as I was welcomed. I had the experience of arriving home to a place that was for me. This was heightened by the fact that due to the pandemic it has been a long time since we have been together in person. I felt awaited and was very aware of the fact that I belong to them.
This belonging also healed and reawakened me. I discovered that I had more peace, more joy, more energy as I drove back home. My preoccupations were the same, however, I felt free because I had been there. They were not as burdensome as they were when I arrived.
The origin of my freedom is in the presence of a people. It is a particular event that has a physical character and allows for this experience of liberation to happen.
It has become clearer to me lately that the School of Community is an event. The community day we have or the party we had for our two newly ordained priests are events. I don’t go to a community day or a celebration or a meeting simply to tell about my life or discuss the things written in a book—I go to experience a transformation of my person.
This awareness of School of Community as an event has become so strong that I have begun to realize that everything is an event, but I don’t experience everything as an event. The disconnect I experience is not in the happening itself, but rather in the lack of my expectation to see, to be seen, to be transformed by that event. I have a beautiful School of Community made up of a small group of people, and what interests me is not how many people come, but what is happening to me and to the others even if it is just two or three present. I notice that when I go there looking for something to happen to me, when I go there as a prayer, things do happen. I have come to see this friendship as a continuous point of memory, as a reminder to expect.
The only thing I can do, really, and that I do every week, is to participate in my School of Community. I drive there praying, asking to see the face of Christ there. In human terms, I desire to have that experience of being welcomed, of being home, of belonging to another, because this liberates me. I am not asking for my burdens to be taken away, but to be liberated from the heaviness of the burden that doesn’t allow me to smile and rejoice.
To me, it is important to dig deep into each thing that happens, especially in the positive experiences. I was deeply grateful to participate in the NY Beginning Day. I was happy to see friends. I was also very mindful that the happiness I experienced is not only an expression of my love for these people whom I haven’t seen much and who are dear to me. Ultimately, my happiness is born from the fact that they are home for me. When I say they are home for me, of course it has the dimension of being welcomed and loved; but there with them is also my origin. When I look at this experience and allow myself the opportunity to dig deeper, what fills my heart is a deep gratitude. There is a place that allows me to experience first-hand, in my flesh, my dependence and discover my origin.
This event reawakened in me the reality that I depend, that the movement is home for me, as my house is home for me. It is the place that generates me; it is the genesis of my freedom and the unity among us is not something we build but something we recognize. It is recognized in a group of people who gather together, knowing they are preferred and that they depend. People who know their origin and the origin of their being together.
I want to continue to keep in mind that our moments of School of Community and our moments of gathering are events. The attention to the beauty that we give to these moments, the care that things are well prepared, can only be born out of the awareness of what one is putting his hands on. Doing things well and preparing them is really a prayer, a gesture of gratitude, of thankfulness. I want to accompany people in recognizing that they are home and that this place where they are welcomed, reawakened, remade, is not simply a comfortable place. Home, for us, is the place where life begins.
Fr. José Medina, Bethesda, MD