What stays with me from my holiday?

It was wonderful to have the opportunity to get right away for 2 weeks’ late summer, to somewhere ‘completely other’. I realised how nourishing a change of scene can be – for those fortunate to have the opportunity.

Two of us had been lent a lovely flat, in Italy, near the sea. On one of the more overcast days we went exploring the local, hilly medieval town. We saw a monk, coming up some steep stone steps, clearly struggling with heavy bags, we went to give a hand. As we were walking up the steep steps – us with his packages, and him in-between us, he suddenly stopped – he turned and looked at us, paused, and then said (in Italian – but here I’ll quote in English) ‘where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.’ We were temporarily speechless, this phrase from Mathew 18 Verse 20 is fundamental to the life of the focolare – the ‘premise’ for all our life and activities. We then explained why this phrase was so important to us. It transpired he was an Orthodox monk – who had heard of focolare.

We accompanied him to his home, he invited us in – and then stopped and blessed each of us: it was a really spine-tingling moment.

As I look back on the holiday, there was sun, there was the sea, and also good food and many other things – but what has really stayed with me as the Treasure of the holiday, was that moment: when we were so touched by the presence of He who walks with us.