Dear Rostrevor families,
Several years ago, while walking the Camino de Santiago,
Joan and I found ourselves staying the night in a small hostel in a region of Northern Spain known affectionately
as 'the plains of insanity' due to the sparseness of vegetation and lack of eye-catching scenery.
Our tiny hostel only accommodated twelve pilgrims in shared facilities with the nearest town about an
hour's drive away. There we were in the middle of nowhere, sharing dinner with ten people we didn't
know and most of whom we didn't share a language.
To our great surprise, the evening meal extended
well into the night as we shared stories of our journeys and joked about the closeness of our sleeping
quarters. Using our broken fragments of each other's language and relying on rough translations
across the table, we had to be far more attentive to each other, often reading facial expressions and
body language to help find meaning in stilted conversation. Interestingly, those challenges somehow
brought us closer together in that tiny room.
Lying in my bunk bed later that evening (listening
to the snoring of weary pilgrims), I wondered if this experience was something like the experience of
Jesus' disciples at Pentecost. Occasionally, an unplanned experience helps us transcend the limitations
and boundaries we usually build around ourselves to discover incredible richness in our shared humanity
with people from different backgrounds, beliefs and languages.
Despite the horror and sadness
of so many COVID-19 deaths across the world, there have also been so many joyful and liberating moments
as people have found ways to reach out to each other despite their circumstances. The Feast of Pentecost
that we celebrate this weekend reminds us of a similar moment of joy and hope after tragedy and death
2000 years ago at the first Pentecost. In 2020, we pray ...
... that in time we will
see that everything has a place in this magnificent creation, that nothing is excluded, and that we need
only accept the presence and working of the Spirit in our lives. The Spirit continues working to
bring us to fullness, to peace, and to a joy that is everlasting.