Monday, May 08, 2006

Home from the war

I have not been on vacation. Cursillo is not a nice getaway, a quiet retreat where you can rest, collect your thoughts and come back rejuvenated. (Especially for those on team.) Too much sugar, not enough sleep, too much caffeine, intense emotional stimulation, too many details to remember, late nights, early mornings... I think of medical residents on call in ER... or a M*A*S*H detail.

The description: war zone— is not a bad one, each new day bringing another acre of mine fields, unexploded bombs laying buried just below the surface of consciousness, waiting to detonate— waiting for the trigger...

I don't believe Cursillo was designed to be this way, but maybe it was. The earliest movement catered to young men returning from the horrors of WWI. Post traumatic stress syndrome had not been labeled as such then, but it was real. To bring a man back to faith in a loving and forgiving God, after so much violence and disillusion had to have been major.

That's not the current focus. Today, Cursillo is a weekend designed to build leaders, especially lay leaders in the church. It's for people who are already committed Christians, to give them a jump start in areas where they might need a gentle nudge (or a two-by-four across the back of their heads). The Holy Spirit works both ways, depending on what you need. I've been on team four times, plus my own weekend as a candidate, so I've "been there, done that." You'd think.

But every weekend is different. Always the participants change, so the mixture and diversity differs each time. The topics for the canned talks are constant, but we bring our own spin to each one, so that changes too. More importantly, life has changed since the last time. Life goes on.

And life goes on outside the retreat center. While we were walking the stations of the cross, singing and praying, eating and listening to meditations, rushing around attending to all the organizational details, life (and death) were going on outside. The news came on Friday that my dear friend with cancer had died the night before. Many of us on team knew and loved him deeply. He had been a strong supporter of the Cursillo movement, and we were shattered by the shock. The news came on Saturday that another close associate, a brother at Holy Cross, had died that day walking down the hall for the noon day office. So much death, so much grief. So much pain.

"In the midst of life, we are in death..." when those words are not just words but become real and personal life takes on its deepest meaning. We had friends willing to hold us, cry with us, help with our duties... to love us, to heal us. Every step I took triggered another mine. I was blown to bits and patched up, only to be blown to bits again. I realized that survival of the fittest means very little in the mysterious body of Christ. If one arm is injured the other compensates... the weakest link is made stronger by the alchemy of love.


kpjara said...

Powerful words and sounds like powerful experience, even in the midst of such pain.

Glad you are back. I "think" when you're around, a quality few people bring to my corner of the world!

HeyJules said...

I am so terribly sorry about your losses, CJ. I have no words of comfort, just an offering for prayers.

Let me know if there is anything I can do for you - email me if you need to sound off or just talk to someone about your friend. I, too, have "been there/done that" so feel free to let me hold your pain.


Pilot Mom said...

"In the midst of life, we are in death..."

I often think when I've been at the bedside of a dying person, "Just think, right this very second, a baby is being born..."

Life and death are a cycle, doesn't make it any easier to bear. I feel for you CJ. As I said over at CCC, I'm praying for you.

Addie said...

that last statement is one of the most profound Ive ever read - mind if I "steal it"?