DAY 9 Conversations, Conclusions and Benedictions
Our final morning of the Community Weekend sees people in reflective mood as we spend sometime after Morning Office in quiet. Each person having received the Journeying with Community booklet is using the reflective exercise to think about their own individual response to the Rule of Life. After coffee we gather together to share, with listening ears and hearts to people sharing their responses and aspects of their journey of discernment.
There is a very positive feel to the sharing and the conversations that flow about how Community Companions and Friends can relate and encourage one another in both Belgium and the Netherlands is helpful. An insightful and helpful discussion ensues that will lead to further initiatives, gatherings and Community Weekends and things for us to ponder and respond to back at Nether Springs, the Community’s mother house.
Our time before lunch concludes with sharing Midday Office. It has been great to see different Companions from four different countries lead the Offices over the weekend. We have the obligatory group photo, (see below), a momento of our time together. I explain that as the Community has grown, each Easter, when we gather, near or far, to make or renew our ‘Yes’ to God, to Availiabilty and Vulnerability, it is like taking out and looking at a family photo album. Seeing new members and being reminded of existing members of the ‘family’ is a pleasurable thing and is cause for much rejoicing and thanksgiving. We end our time over another great lunch and with a sense that we will all be together again in the not too distant future and that for many this weekend will see them entering the noviciate process in the coming months and years.
People were a little reluctant to leave; saying farewell is inevitable but carries some sadness and the enticement of further post lunch cakes delays departures further! As we prayed at the end of Morning Office, we feel confident that for each one of us who have been here, that God will bring us home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown us.
Shirley and I are staying on overnight to continue conversations with Ben, Lucie and Pascale in the morning but after a clear up, turn around of the house and mountains of washing up and laundry washing we all have some downtime. Shirley and I go down in the late afternoon to meet with our Belgium friends who have driven down from Liege to meet us in Spa. Michel and I were school exchange partners back in the early 1970’s and we reconnected with one another a few years ago when we where on a camping holiday as a family camping holiday in the Ardennes. Passing the town where I stayed with Michel and his family many years before, we took the opportunity to discover if they were still around after over twenty years of no contact. Our explorations proved fruitful and within two hours we were reunited. We have become close friends ever since and see each other at least twice a year, in Belgium and in Northumberland. This summer we will be sailing together in Scotland. After another good Belgian beer, (can recommend Val Dieu – it’s even got God’s name on it!), we walked around a nearby lake and continued catching up over a relaxed meal in the town before we bade our friends au revoir.
Returning to the house we enjoyed a quiet hour reading and the day ended with a game of pool with Ben and his older brother Jem. After the deep conversations and weighty matters of the Community Weekend it was good to spend some down time pottering, relaxing and being beaten on the pool table!