I’m in the United States for about two weeks, mostly to celebrate the fifty years my cousin, Mary Barrar, has lived as a vowed Sister of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill.
I decided to take advantage of this trip and arrived a week early for a workshop on Creative Workshop Design at Training for change in Philadelphia. It was a very intensive workshop with people from all across the US and Canada, mostly working on issues of racism. It was challenging and helpful. I even had time to work on my catechists’ workshop and got some good feedback to improve it.
The workshop and walking through this West Philadelphia neighborhood were very good for me and I got a few delightful surprises.
Training for Change is, as I see it, fairly secular, though I believe it has Quaker roots. It is very committed to people of color – and is very much connected with LGTBQ activists. It was thus very encouraging to see how my obvious connection with the Catholic Church was never an object of disdain. In fact, I found many very supportive of me, even though I guess that they might not agree with all my beliefs and practices. That is important for me and I wish others, especially in the church, would have such positive experiences and move away from their combative and oppressive approach.
What also gave me cause for awe was the abundance of spring in Philadelphia. Though the nights were cool, the flowers and the trees were blooming. There were tulips and many other spring flowers and these beautiful pink flowered trees.
That struck me is how the flowers call from the trees and make the whole area around them a world of pink. Such abundance – even extravagance.
After Philadelphia, I went to Cranford, New Jersey, to visit and stay with an old friend (younger than I am, though). I also went into New York.
After confession at St. Francis of Assisi Church on 31st Street, I went up to visit the Cloisters Museum, one of my favorite places in Manhattan. When I was a grad student in the city between 1970nand 1974, this was one of my refuges.
As I got off the subway, I asked a woman if this was the stop for the Cloisters. She said yes and told me how to get there. We continued talking on the elevator up to the street. She is among those who maintain a garden in the park that goes up to the museum and told me to be sure to pass through the park and see the flowers. We parted, wishing each other well.
It was a delight to speak with such a warm person and then to see the park with tulips and other flowers.
Then I spent a short time in the Cloisters, not only marveling at the art but glorying in the abundance of the trees, flowers, and herbs.
I’ll be heading to Philadelphia area tomorrow for visiting friends and family and for the celebration. After this I’ll return to home in Honduras, after a short visit to Mexico City, to visit the Virgin of Guadalupe and more.
A change of pace, but, God willing, a way to open me to better serve God’s people.