It was during the psalm that the beauty of yesterday's Cursillo Eucharist was most palpable. It was 22 verses long and a different person read each verse, as we listened and watched: all of us, women and men, young and not so young, lay and ordained, black and white. Dignified ladies from the Bronx, dressed for church. Manhattanites in office casual. Guys in blue jeans and flannel shirts, upstate guys in corduroy. Women in skirts and women in trousers.
Suddenly, it seemed to me that I was seeing all these people as God must see them: listening to them, loving every last one of them. Marveling at the miracles they were, at the history that had brought them here, the thread of divine love that pulled them. It seemed to me that each reader was bathed in a special light, illuminated so that we saw each one as if for the first time.
Others remarked on it, too, later on. And on other things: the processional cross, wrapped in purple for Lent and secured with a rope into which was knotted a crown of thorns at the top, carried by the crucifer across his own body, as one might carry an injured comrade or cradle a child. You bid your faithful people cleanse their hearts, and prepare with joy for the Paschal feast.... A Eucharist so lovely, nobody wanted to leave. But with a dismissal gentle but firm, the deacon reminded us that it was our job to take this loveliness and carry it out into the world where it is needed. It was time to go.
We are from churches all over a big diocese, able to know and love each other at a level one often doesn't always find among people from different parishes because they don't often get a chance to share at a deep level. That's one of the great gifts of Cursillo: it makes the idea of a diocese real for ordinary people. Not just assessment-budget-bishops'-visitation real, but gathering-just-to-share-and-pray real. You need both kinds of real in church.
The retreat was called "Back to the Mountain." It really was on a mountain, and getting back down on Sunday was a lot easier than getting up had been on a snowy Friday. Back to work, back to our ordinary annoyances. But back, also, to a world in which there are glimpses of the divine love that pierced us with sweetness, as we listened to our dear friends read a psalm.
This weekend: a retreat with Barbara Crafton at Trinity Church, Newtown CT. Telephone 203-426-9070 for more information, or email email@example.com .