The lighthouse on the island of Texel, The Netherlands (©Unsplash/Marieke Koenders)

"Here and now, on the beach in Texel”

Hikes, bicycle rides, dialogues and meetings. "A continuous crescendo of gratitude." An account of the summer vacation of the Dutch community, where "time was not even wasted at breakfast.”

We are three friends from the movement in Antwerp. After Easter, one of them, whom we were getting to know better, decided to return to his home country. Working from home and the social distancing imposed by the pandemic had made it difficult to see each other. The human desert was advancing before my eyes with greater awareness, and added to it were the difficulties that the movement was experiencing…

So I left for the island of Texel where the summer vacation with friends from The Netherlands would take place. I needed to see the Lord at work again, and I was unexpectedly overwhelmed. From the first evening, there was an atmosphere of anticipation and the desire to be together among us – 140 adults, teens and children. The next day, I have breakfast with a friend of mine who, because of his illness, had been unable to attend introduction to the vacation. His wife and I began to tell him what had impacted us the most and as I read him a sentence from my notes, I was surprised to find myself thinking: “What is this place, where time is not even wasted at breakfast as to the questions that are most pressing?"

We then set off on a hike through the Dutch countryside, some by bike, others on foot. In the evening I saw Teresa again, who had just come back from the short vacation with GS students from Spain, and I immediately asked her to take charge of translating the testimony we would hear from Dutch to Italian. Teresa's father said at the assembly, "I am filled with gratitude for these days that have made me realize that the fulfillment of the promise is something real for me. Seeing my children grow up adhering to the proposal of the movement, I realize that I am a humble collaborator in His work and a spectator of this fulfillment."

On the third day we went on a trip to the lighthouse, forty kilometers by bike, riding side by side in pairs. As soon as we left, I found myself alongside Francesco. "I got to the vacation completely exhausted. I did not even want to come because I thought that spending time with 140 people was not the best remedy for my exhaustion. But as soon as I set foot in the hotel I thought that this is what I really need. I suddenly found myself united and at peace."

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After parking our bikes, while we headed to the lighthouse for lunch, another friend joined the conversation about what I had been living in the past few months. "Loneliness is defeated in the self. Christ begins again with you, on this beach, here in Texel," he told me, and added: "Do you want to begin again with Him?" "Yes!" In an instant I recovered the energy to "decide," and immediately we realized that Someone was present among us, who had come to take initiative again within that human, and at the same time divine, attraction that was happening before our eyes. Christ, whom I had long relegated out of reality ,was back in my daily life. My whole state of mind and the circumstances with which I had arrived at the vacation were key vehicles for my cry to become more urgent. The next days then became a crescendo of gratitude for each of us, so much so that by the final assembly people could not stop recounting what had happened.

Signed letter