Writing to you feels quite new and unfamiliar. But so too has my experience of the Movement been – quite unexpected and not what I had planned.
For many years, I feel I have been a bit like a sponge. I take in experiences, people’s stories, life encounters, inspiring people, great figures, saints, places etc. All these experiences have made me richer, but I also recognise a poverty because of my inability to recall my memories, to share my being in the context of experiences happening in my own life.
My natural tendency is to please others, to over-think, to put effort into things; whether that be my work as a nurse, in friendships, in my spiritual and prayer life.
But often, deep-down, I am often left with a sense of emptiness, a sense of disappointment, insecurity, franticness, highs and lows.
When I first encountered the movement in 2013, I encountered Fr. Pepe. He took notice of my questions, where I was at in my life in a way that I had not previously experienced. Spending time, being invited into projects within the community, made me encounter something different to what I had ever known. I began to wonder how he had this capacity for other people without feeling weighed down/exhausted and also why I felt different (more at ease, more certain in myself and with others, after leaving such events).
The friendships that I encountered through the movement were totally different. They asked me who I was, they discussed matters at a deeper level, but they also had fun, had their own ways, their own interests, they were speaking about their own lives.
I hungered for this. I knew that faith, Christ, the sacraments could nourish me and would give me some peace. But I also wanted this to live on in my work, with my friends, with my family. A possibility of a real relationship, a friendship with Christ. A method to live this in my reality was not familiar to me.
I moved to London and embarked on a new direction in my job. But even then I felt I needed something which would help me live my work, leisure and my faith in a very tangible way, because one without the other, I am alone, insecure, not able to love myself and freely love others. I would pick up the magazine Traces (even if this was only during my lunch break) and recall such a different gaze, like a light bulb switching on again. So I sought out the School of Community in London and started to go along.
Through Communion and Liberation, I met, for the first time, this mix of being your own character in all shapes and forms but also sharing deeper the questions of life and so tangibly discussing the reality of Christ. This place, the people who contribute, the questions proposed, the reaching out of others to know me, have left me leaving with such a glow, an excitement for life and a freedom to stay living my own story. Returning home after School of Community the effect is tangible in terms of how I look at my housemates, my patients the next day, my colleagues and how I look at myself.
I have gained glimpses of liberation and freedom from above. It is ok to just be me and to come to know Christ in MY life. I taste something NEW, freeing, alive, and I sense truth, peace.
These glimpses and friendships with people in the movement have also kept me connected and involved in projects for the London Encounter and Rimini Meeting, which have helped me see different ways of approaching work, study, dinners, walks, hosting, friendships together and which have led me to follow, to keep on following. I recognise that I need this place, these people, and these friendships because the contrast without such are very noticeable.
I feel that I have lived through many years of not being able to face or carry my true self or to share it truly in my spiritual journey, work, leisure and friendships. I can be immature in the sense of expressing my true emotions and feelings. School of Community and the individuals that I have met through CL help me to start to unpick some of this (and I think I am at a very early stage). But, for once, not necessarily through acquiring knowledge but recognising something different, something that sets me alight and something which helps me question my story in my day-to-day, helping me recognise that He is a reality that I can encounter, not something that I have to force myself to acquire through my own effort. This is a very tender, loving, delicate realisation because it is so unexpected but so specific to my life-story and is even an antidote to some of my natural inclinations –for example overthinking. It is very real but also very beyond me.
Thank-you for reading this.
Jill, London, UK