The Promise of Belonging to Each Other
Free at last to go on vacation with her friends, Monica experiences nothing extraordinary but unexpected beauty.
When campsites became available for reservations six months ago, my friend Tara texted me saying: “Let’s go camping together this summer! I really want to spend time together with our friends!” So we reserved the camping site, created a Whatsapp camping group, and ten minutes later several families and friends in our Communion and Liberation community had made reservations for camping together in the Cape the second weekend in June.
The whole thing exploded! I told some friends who told some other friends--many of whom I didn't know. Then another friend, Eugi, reserved yet another camping site for Memorial Day weekend. And again, like a domino effect, the same events took place: there were 54 people in signed up in the end!
Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend: here we are packing and getting ready for camping but of course the forecast predicts heavy rain and a high temperature of 40 (welcome to New England’s unpredictable weather!). We decided not to camp, of course, and I was so sad and disappointed--and my children, too.
Saturday morning my son Joseph cried so much that his eyes were all puffed up. He kept asking: “Why why can’t we go camping?” I had to give in: the adults decided it was not safe to camp but that we would meet for the day anyway!
So off we go to Pawtuckaway State Park! We found a gazebo, took out the camping stove and the food we had packed and spent a beautiful day together. When the rain broke for a few minutes we managed to take a walk around the beautiful pond.
As we were driving home that evening I kept thinking “Why? Why did it have to be rainy and cold? All I wanted was to spend some time together?“ And yet I couldn't help but be grateful and surprised by how beautiful it was to spend the day together even if it did not match my plans.
I felt described in the School of Community when Father Carrón speaks about an ineradicable fact: “Within us we have an irreducible and unique expectancy that is boundless, and it is not in our power to imagine what will fulfill it. It is a mystery” (Fraternity Exercises, chapter 2) .
A couple of weekends later we are all excited for our Cape Cod camping weekend. The forecast wasn’t too promising but also it was not cold so I knew that we would try to camp, rain or shine! This time our son Joseph was not going to take "no" for an answer! Off we went, fifty-four friends in total (adults outnumbered by kids ages 5 months to 13 years old) to Nickerson State Park in beautiful, rustic Cape Cod.
Friday night into Saturday I woke up at 4:30 am because our tent was wet and it didn’t sound like it would stop raining any time soon. It didn’t matter: my kids sort of slept and couldn’t wait to get out of the tent when the sun came up to go find their friends and ride bikes in the beautiful bike path surrounding our campsites.
We gathered to say morning prayer (Tara had asked if we could start the day together that way and so we made copies for everyone to follow). As we prayed, Saint Paul’s words moved me deeply because it reminded that I am loved and taken care of. Looking around at the kids and adults trying to pray while it was still drizzling, these words rang true in my life. God is faithful.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all, making my prayer with joy, thankful for your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure that He who began this good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1: 3-6).
We took a three-mile loop hike around the pond. We spent the afternoon together and went to the vigil mass. As we walked out of the church the sun finally came out. The evening was beautiful and simple: we had dinner together (the dads cooked amazing food from hotdogs to sausages to pizza!!) and kids played games and we finished off with a couple of songs and s'mores around the fire.
The next day again we started off with morning prayer. A kid asked Andre, who was leading morning prayer: “Why do we have to say this morning prayer? Can’t we just say a Hail Mary and go play?” Andre explained that Father Giussani invited us to start the day with morning prayer because we belong to a history that began thousands of years ago with the Jewish people, who also prayed the Psalms.
Praying the psalms during the hours allows us to enter into a dialogue between God and man. The psalms cover the whole range of human experience, from sadness to joy. We enter into a conversation with God, begging for His Presence to be with us this day.
After packing up we spent the rest of the day on the ocean watching seals swim away twenty feet from the shore. The kids were simply happy to get their feet wet and play together some more! Even the adults were in awe in front of the seals so close by--to the point that we were making fun of Sabrina for screaming and jumping up and down as a kid would!
Driving home I thought: how beautiful to just be together and share a meal together, take a walk and go to the beach together! We didn’t do anything extraordinary but for all of us it was the experience of an unexpected beauty and promise for more beauty in belonging to each other and to this story that began 2000 years ago.
Monica, Boston, Massachusetts