FORGET-ME-NOT

After days surrounded by young adults and around many tables in Toronto, our Canadian winter trip took us to St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland. Perhaps because it was a new found land, during our stay, our conversations were always about the importance of not forgetting: not forgetting where we come from, not forgetting our first love, not forgetting our origins and not forgetting our missionary vocation that unites our Redemptorist family.

Whenever we sat down to talk, trying to think together possible ways of evangelization for our present days, right from the beginning, we felt like the prophets had also joined our conversations, urging us not to neglect this fundamental exercise of rekindling the memory of who loved us first and called us to the path of freedom. With all the patience, sitting next to us, the prophets were telling us again, in our ear, that He is the Lord, that the Mission is His and that we are called just to obey Him. One of them reminded us of Samuel’s story (1Sam 3), just to make sure we understand that all missionary action begins with the listening.

The first to agree with this prophet was our confrere Tony Bidgood. “We live in a time when we, the Church, need to train the listening. It is time to shut up and listen.”, he said. The truth is that we live in a world that shouts louder and louder, a world that flings words like stones and no one seems interested in listening anymore. Let us shut our mouths, then. Let us listen, then. At least us.

Tony is putting this into practice in the chaplaincy of a hospital in the city. Primarily, he is there to listen. Regardless of race, culture, religion or background. He is at the service of the pains, concerns, doubts and desires of those who, sometimes while enduring the pains of a disease, have found other deeper sufferings that medicine cannot cure. And Tony is there, not to tell them what to do, but to listen and give support. “It is a grace to have the opportunity to be present in an accompanying process like this”, he confided. “Sometimes I am there to untie knots from a religion that has entered in and has imprisoned these people; a religion clearly quite distant from the God that the prophets announce. Other times I am there to listen, share and pray with those who have found God in other religions. No judgments, no prejudices. Open ears, that’s all.”

But Tony is not in this alone. Together with Anne Walsh, a Lay Missionary of the Most Holy Redeemer, and the confrere David Louch, they have been dreaming of other ways to open ears in the world in which we live in. And they are always trying to reach to the most abandoned in particular. One of the ideas on the table is the creation of a “listening point” where they can listen to those who are leaving a period of imprisonment. Another idea that they have been cherishing is to think of what to offer to the many who call themselves “Spiritual but not Religious” today. Tony, Anne and David would like to create a space in the city center where many of these thirsty people could at least find a welcoming space and other people available to listen and accompany them in this search.

In St. John’s we have missionaries who listen. And who dream new paths. Perhaps because they listen.

We had the opportunity to join them in training the listening. They train at least twice a week using a meditation method known as Centering Prayer, which places a strong emphasis on silence. There are no words. Only Christians gathered inside a small room in our church, but facing outside, with their eyes fixed on what is seen through the glass wall of that room. People, houses, trees, cars or the frozen lake in the background. Or something else, but always in silence. It takes twenty minutes to practice listening, twenty minutes with open ears, so that prayer does not become the moment we tell God what He should do, but the place where we listen to God telling us His dreams and wishes.

And God continues to dream. Dreaming of paths for our Congregation, like those that are renewing the partnership in the mission between lay and religious. Once again, we were able to be present at a meeting of a Redemptorist Lay Associates circle, witnessing the joy that one experiences when we all sit at the same table as brothers and sisters that we really are. It was Sunday and we had lunch in the dining room of the religious community. A family lunch. With a long conversation, which continued in the living room, where we all welcomed two new members into this family, Zita and Greg, and celebrated the renewal of Anne and Margie’s missionary commitment. All this while we were telling and listening to stories of our love for the Redemptorist charism… It was an afternoon to make memory together. And even a piece of a text written by Lasso de La Vega got into the conversation, through the voice of our confrere Ciro Perez, who made a point of underlining the need for a full and equal partnership between lay and religious. Ciro read it the first time and then repeated the “full and equal” phrase. Full and equal. This is really something to bear in mind.

This is the challenge we brought with us from Newfoundland: not to forget. A challenge experienced by all Newfoundlanders each July the 1st, who remember a tragic battle in World War I. On that day, everyone wears a little blue flower called “forget-me-not”. They say it helps to revive memory.

We brought one of those flowers with us. And all we see in it is that request that God made us in the beginning when He brought us out of Egypt. Forget-me-not.

We are still on time.

We’ll see you around,

Zé ku Teresa
LMMHR

Advertisement

2 Comments

  1. Queridos irmãos, é tão bom receber notícias vossas e, ver esses sorrisos de felicidade, de quem vive com o amor de Deus! E fotografias lindas, cheias de neve e mesas simples, próprias de quem precisa de ambiente para conviver e falar sobre coisas que que cada vez nos encantam mais. Beijinhos e abraços para todos, aqui de Castelo Branco, Portugal….

    CSSR Around the World escreveu no dia segunda, 17/02/2020 à(s) 14:22:

    > Zé ku Teresa posted: ” After days surrounded by young adults and around > many tables in Toronto, our Canadian winter trip took us to St. John’s, the > capital of Newfoundland. Perhaps because it was a new found land, during > our stay, our conversations were always about the import” >

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s