Last week, I spent a few days with several monks who belong to the Brothers of St. John, a Community rooted in the witness of the Beloved Disciple, John, who rested on the chest of Jesus during the Last Supper. These Holy men have always had a calming presence for me, rooting me in Christ through their love of Christ. Jesus reminds us that we all need time away to rest in God’s presence, and for me, this means praying with holy people in communities of prayer.
These communities, monasteries, are open to all people of all faiths or no faith, men and women searching. The cost is minimal, oftentimes simply a free will donation. I frequently go to places like Peoria, DuBuque, a couple of places on the East Coast; they are everywhere. Jesús was the Shepherd who exuded holiness, one who had a deep connection to his Father. All of us deeply yearn for this during these times of isolation.
When there is a will... there is a way: the people found out where Jesus was staying, even during his retreat away. They found Him out!!!! They were determined. During my three days away, I still remained connected and received messages from those who were searching. I, myself, reached out to someone with whom I had a painful encounter that caused separation, a wounded friendship.
When we go away for prayer, we don’t leave our connections with people, we bring them with us, into prayer. People search and find in many ways, the internet being one of those ways. My search has led me to the Brothers or other monks/nuns of prayer, to visit in person. But I also discover these people on podcasts and in articles on the internet. The pandemic has caused all of us to find new and creative ways to connect.
I just needed a physical presence, the internet just wasn’t doing it for me. This contact was safe and respected all the restrictions. I was with priests and lay people, eating and praying with real human beings. What a gift!!!! We need to find ways, safe ways, of being with people physically. It’s an essential part of our humanity. And think about the Poor: they don’t have the privilege and ability to create a safe haven, free of contact with people. They are forced into leaving their homes to work or travel to stores that are not in their neighborhoods; they must use public transportation, not exactly a place free of germs. Jesus certainly didn’t live under a bubble, nor should we.