Games by the lake (Photo: A. De Simoni)

Little Tommaso’s first vacation

A hundred friends from the CL communities in the South East spent a few days together on the shores of a lake in Georgia. Enrico speaks about the testimonies, the games, the walks… and the baptism of their new arrival.

Sautee Mountain Retreat is located in the mountains of Georgia, in the southernmost part of the Appalachian Mountains. We found ourselves there in late June for the summer vacation of the CL communities of the Southeast and Florida – from Knoxville, Tennessee, to faraway Miami – from Wednesday evening until Sunday morning. One hundred and nine of us in total, including Tommaso.

Mica met the movement a decade ago at a high school in Greenville, South Carolina. During that time, she also met Christian, who is now her husband. Tommaso is their first child. Mica told us that "this child, who is so different from what I had imagined before he was born and who demands constant attention and does not let us sleep at night, would not be here if it were not for Fr. Giussani. I am full of gratitude for what he started and what reached me through Michelle, my religion teacher at school. And I am infinitely grateful to him for generating a place that continues to accompany me." Tommaso was baptised during the vacation, at the Mass celebrated by Fr. Michael on Saturday night.

Carol lives in Birmingham, Alabama. She began joining School of Community a few months ago (see Traces, April 2021). She came to the vacation with her four children: "A few years ago I realized I was missing something, but I did not know what. For example, one day, looking at my husband, I caught myself wondering, ‘Who is this man with whom I share everything? How did we end up together?’ Then I decided to resume my journey of faith, but it remained a faith that was still my own doing. Now I have a community in which I can walk. It still happens that I do not know what I am missing, but Fr. Giussani shows me every time."

These are two of the brief testimonies that have accompanied me during these days of the vacation. The group of cooks, led by Eddie, did the shopping and cooking for everyone. Then we sang, particularly in the evenings with the kids. We played volleyball by the lake. We walked in the woods and ate lunch sitting by a waterfall. We threw wet sponges at each other during games in the park. We teased each other in the frizzi and sang again on the last night in front of a bonfire.

Read also – “Never alone, in every corner of life”

The most extraordinary aspect of the vacation was the fraternity experienced in the few days we spent together. We arrived in small groups from many different cities hours apart by car. Many of us had only known the movement for less than a year. Yet we said goodbye on Sunday morning with our hearts filled with the beauty of the eyes of others, like brothers and sisters who have been walking together for years, whom we did not know we had and who are now part of our being forever. Including Tommaso.

Enrico, Miami, Florida