Sharing Life in Bloomington, IN
Chevy discovers the joy of sharing with others what she has met
For the past year and a half, up until a few months ago, the CLU (Communion and Liberation University students) in Bloomington, IN had dwindled down to just Sponge and me. This was in part due to graduations, etc., but also due to difficulty in generating new relationships during the pandemic. The beginning of the academic year in the fall of last year marked a new set of challenges in understanding how to live the life of the Movement and continuing School of Community during what felt like a dormant state. However, in the past few months, something has happened—our Bloomington CLU community has become suddenly and thrillingly alive.
God provided, and we went from two people to seven within a few weeks. We met a friend at the Newman Center, and she joined us for School of Community. She introduced us to her friend, and he came along as well. One person came almost out of nowhere, having discovered the Movement through an article he had read. One old friend from 2018 began coming again to our group. Finally, a new friend in the Movement, originally from Italy but working in Bloomington for a few months with a professor, joined us too. In a way I can’t fully understand, these people were given to us in a relatively short period of time.
We faced the beautiful (and sometimes challenging) invitation to share the charism of Fr. Giussani with people who were brand-new. As many of us have experienced, it is inadequate and impossible to simply “explain” what we have encountered in words or in a few meetings. But now, in a concrete way, we were having real conversations, dinners, discussions, questions, living a life together.
In order to share a greater experience of Communion and Liberation with our new friends, we wanted to invite them to the annual CLU vacation in Colorado. Some of these new members of our community didn’t realistically have the financial means to cover the costs themselves, so we reached out to our friends in the surrounding communities to help us fundraise in order to share this experience with our new friends. The response we received was nothing short of amazing—many people (some with families/kids!) began donating not just 5 or 10 dollars, but 50, 100, 200 dollars. For me that was shocking, and it became a clear reminder of the way in which we are so dependent and yet so gratuitously cared for, the way a parent cares for a child. Even if I could sufficiently express my gratitude for our friends, our greater CL community, it’s clear to me that that still wouldn’t be enough to make up for what I’ve received—I’m constantly being generated by Another who’s taking care of me.
In the end, three of our new friends were able to go on vacation—even a few with jobs were able to work remotely from CO. We raised enough to cover the costs of those who needed assistance with registration and to rent an SUV to take four of us to Colorado and back. Even after a 17-hour car ride, we didn’t want to kill each other and this is a real testament to just how happy Sponge and I were to be sharing this experience with our new friends. The vacation itself was full of new friendships, hikes, conversations, games, meals, witnesses, singing, and life, and it was beautiful not only to see our new friends engaging in it, but for us to engage in it too.
As Sponge said at the end of the vacation, it is becoming clearer how he and I are now on the other side of the coin from when we first began sharing life with the community in Bloomington; suddenly we are the ones with ‘experience’, learning what it means to share the responsibility and joy of helping others meet that which we have met. Yet still, it is a wonderful gift to always be placed back at the beginning of this encounter through the experiences of the new friends God gives us.
The past few months and weeks have been absolutely beautiful, and while one of our friends is going back to Belgium soon to finish his Ph.D. and another is being deployed overseas, I look forward to remaining with them, living life together (even if we’re physically apart), and continuing to be open to wherever our Bloomington community is led.
Chevy, Bloomington, IN