Saturday, June 30, 2007

We Need Bananas

We completed the week of training for new volunteers this morning. I have been impressed by the general "personality" of this year's group. No cliques. There is remarkable ethnic diversity and quite an age range as well. Yet our dear volunteers are quite inclusive and easy-going. They take things as they come, starting from Day One when our cook did not show up and suddenly we had to prepare supper ourselves. It turned out to be fun instead of stressful.

Another shining moment in adaptability: on Wednesday morning, a teen volunteer entered the meeting room just as Rosa was about to begin her session, which includes a series of interactive games and challenges. I took his paperwork from him and introduced him quickly, then left him with the rest and went on about my business. I learned later he had just wandered into the room looking for someone to give his papers to, and in fact had never had any kind of orientation or preparation for what goes on here. I watched him from my office window as Rosa had the group walk on four-by-fours and scream at balloons and other inexplicable activities. He just went along with it, even started smiling after awhile. Wow. I am pretty sure I would have slipped out at the first bathroom break if that had been my introduction to Trinita.

I have started keeping a little spiral notepad and pen in my pocket. I have to write everything down right when it comes up, because I absolutely cannot remember anything if it leaves my visual field. There is definitely too much coming in. Let's look at a few entries:
  • get string for messagebook
  • Claire Xavier died Nov 28 2005
  • lighter for chapel
  • clean pear juice
  • call Mama
  • poem, 3 stanzas
  • can we cover the bathroom floor vent in Cabin 4?
  • announce move garbage in dumpster to back
It goes on like that. I still have not called Mama, though I did try. And I have done most of those things, but I am stuck on coming up with a poem to announce Patty's arrival for story time.Four number 10 cans of pear juice exploded in the pantry, and I had to clean it off at like midnight because the health inspector was due in the next day.

I am keeping an eye on special snacks for the volunteers. It's kind of a fun job, looking for ways to keep people happy. Not too hard with this group either. I just realized, however, that we have not had bananas available in days. Angel loves bananas. This is a simple pleasure and he should not be denied. But I did not write it in my notebook. Maybe someone will spontaneously drop off bananas tomorrow. It's sort of how things seem to work here. You need something, and the next thing you know, someone just shows up with it. So, we need bananas. Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Night Before

Tomorrow the summer program begins. I have an airport run in the morning and will bring back the first Missionary Cenacle Volunteer to arrive for the summer program.

Is it any use trying to describe what Trinita is like while the summer program is in progress? You definitely have to be here and experience it to understand. It sort of engages you completely. Well, it's true not everyone who has served here has that experience. But many do.

What I did not know until now was how the time BEFORE the program begins is just as demanding in its own way. There have been uncountable numbers of local friends coming by to help us get ready. Yesterday I discovered Annette hard at work at our copy machine preparing the booklets used for family blanket time. Years ago, she showed up here as a young mother to join a Wednesday morning MOMs group. Now she, and many others like her, are practically members of the staff. They have become missionaries, and Trinita is their mission. I thought about this as I watched her explain what she had put on the pages of the booklet.

She could have come and gone. Some do. But many come and.... they pick up on something. Something about this place. It is on the surface just an old farmhouse with a few rustic outbuildings. But if that were all it was, just a retreat center, why would so many people come and stay, and become part of this place? These people are not simply benefactors or friends of ours, they actually help us run the mission. I wonder if Annette realizes she is a missionary while she stands there cranking out copies of blanket time booklets?

Monday, June 11, 2007


Maybe I should rename this blog. It seems like I have not been at Trinita much lately. Life at Trinita would be nice, insofar as I would be sleeping in my own bed at night. I like my bed.

I have been in this sort of interdimensional time/space vortex for weeks now. The drug I was taking for poison ivy disrupted my sleep and I am still not back in rhythm. The upside of this is that I have been really quite productive lately. The downside is that I have been living life in a kind of fugue state for weeks. It's not all from taking pills of course--I have been traveling and dealing with a number of diverse and demanding situations from Orlando to Louisiana to Philadelphia to Connecticut. Stupid with fatigue, I have been making dumb mistakes, forgetting things, and generally smiling and nodding my way through conversations. But having lost my edge, I find my tolerance for annoyances is higher. I am observing life from a detached, "big picture" point of view instead of being caught up in the details of the moment. This has led to some unexpected spiritual moments which stand out in the wash of weariness I have been living in lately.

I am on a committee with other lay and religious members of my spiritual family who have been charged to prepare us all for our upcoming centennial celebration in 2009 We have been working together for a year already, and this weekend we ran a training for recruits from five geographic areas who will be responsible to plan and execute area celebrations. I've been tech support for this, meaning wires and websites and photo-editing. This weekend was really a lot of listening and sharing and taking counsel on our hopes for the future, and it all went on bilingually. Whenever our faithful recruits took time at their tables for sharing and working, we committee members likewise would continue our work at our own table.

In my detached, bemused state of mind, I was perhaps less than helpful in these sessions, but I was nevertheless strongly engaged on another level. I could not focus well on what we were talking about half the time, but I remained acutely aware of who we are in this moment. Eight men and women, from three different countries, from many cultures, single, married, vowed religious--all of us strongly bound by our consecration to the Holy and Blessed Trinity through our membership in the Missionary Cenacle Family. At one moment I felt almost giddy with an awareness of how in this very moment, this Here and Now, we are fulfilling the charism entrusted to us by the Holy Spirit to be Church in a very incarnational, relational, Trinitarian way.

There was a moment when Gerardo was straining to express himself, and as he shifted back and forth from Spanish to English multiple times in every sentence, I lost his point but I grasped his meaning--I grasped the greater meaning of the moment. We together are straining, with groans too deep for words, to express the Incarnation. We absolutely, positively, cannot do it any other way apart from this grounding as family. No more than a pile of twigs and leaves can be a tree, can I fulfill my vocation as a Missionary Servant without being grounded deeply in the Missionary Cenacle Family.