A Friend From Florida

This year at the Family Vacation something opened up for me that has, I hope, moved me a little further along the way toward that initial surge of the heart becoming mature...

A problem emerged for me months ago, and has been more or less urgent, and it is concerning my total paralysis in front of the inquiries of these friends of mine, with whom I went to Rome for the weekend of March 7th, and who I drive an hour and half to see every week. Faced with these questions,
I always had a latent fear of saying something wrong, giving an inadequate explanation that would mask the beauty and the density that dominates my life since the Movement found me. But this year at the Family Vacation something opened up for me that has, I hope, moved me a little further along the way toward that initial surge of the heart becoming mature.

On Saturday we had a few hours free and were confined to the hotel by the abundance of Florida rain. A whole mess of us found ourselves at the bar with songbooks and guitars, singing. It had started with a few of us getting a drink, the rest seeming to happen naturally; none of this was planned. I wondered what all the other people at the bar thought of us. We were a diverse bunch, but even just judging by the way we sang together, there is an unbelievable unity there. It was not orchestrated by any of our dominant personalities but rather by One who is unmistakably present.
I was thinking about this when through the doors on the other side of the bar emerged a brand new married couple passing through from the ceremony to the reception. We burst into cheers and applause for them like they were our closest friends and with all the awareness of the weighty adventure into which they had just entered. They looked at us amazed and a little confused by the outpouring of enthusiasm, but went on their way. As they passed, though, one of us took up the song we all know, “take my hand/ take my whole life, too…” He had only sung a few notes before we all joined in to serenade the new couple. They were floored. They stopped and listened to us sing them the entire song while their photographer wildly snapped photos in an effort to capture this inexplicable moment. Right then I knew that our being together is inexplicable, but it is undeniably a thing, a thing so real that it does not depend on my ability to explain it.

The rest of the vacation was full of beautiful moments, all unanticipated and full of weight for me, catching my heart in my throat and filling me with awe in front of what is.

I left the vacation happy and full. But it all became mine after work Monday when a friend from work invited me to grab some dinner and while we ate he asked me why I had been in Venice Beach that weekend. My response was to vacation with some friends. He told me how amazed he was that a West Coast girl, 3,000 miles from home, can have such a solid support structure in Florida. I was completely surprised that he even noticed this essential fact about my life despite my best efforts to avoid explaining anything about my friends. Just being around me he noticed that the friendship I live in the Movement is what supports my life. He was then curious about who these people were for me. For the first time, I was free to simply share my experience: that living life with these people, many of whom I seldom see, is the way in which Christ comes to meet me now, the way in which His face emerges, takes on shape, beholds my life now. It is in living life with these friends that the memory of His merciful gaze on me, on my life, becomes mine, becomes a tenderness, first for myself, and then for everything else.

At the vacation I was continually struck by the fact of Christ in front of my nose, a fact that I didn’t and don’t make. He who moves my life shows up in the unity amongst us, in the beauty and gladness amid all the real happenings of life, and He is not subject to my explanations; He doesn’t ask my permission to burst forth into life and be a present Presence. My excellent or poor explanations do not change the fact that He is. So, I’m free to say true things without the pressure of ensuring people understand because I don’t understand how He can be; I simply know that He is.