It’s the only word coming to my mind to describe my last five weeks in Ave Maria at FOCUS New Staff Training. In every sense of it. Together. We grew together, prayed together, laughed, worked, cried, ate, swam, walked, sang, relaxed, shared, listened, and lived together.
Alone and isolated, we make no difference. But God is with us. And together with Him? 500 missionaries and the students we work with will change the world.
When Curtis Martin, FOCUS’s founder and CEO, met St. Pope John Paul II, the pope told Curtis and the missionaries of FOCUS to “Be soldiers!” And together, we are exactly that. All summer, we were up shortly after the sunrise, we followed a strict schedule, ate the same food, attended classes and retreats, and did not sleep nearly enough. And now, we leave “bootcamp” and head out into the battle.
God definitely knew what He was doing when He put me in the small group that had St. Joan of Arc as a patroness. She was a BALLER and I am so timid. I don’t often get fired up about battles and fighting, but spiritual warfare is so real and God allows us to be on His side and fight with Him. What a privilege!
When I was in 9th grade, I took a drama class and was assigned a monologue from Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw, a play about the life of St. Joan of Arc. Reciting these words as a 14 year old was really my only experience with her, and at the time I really didn’t care very much. But looking back, this summer has been a follow-up to that monologue. It has been an opportunity to not look at St. Joan of Arc as a cool woman who is entirely unrelatable, but as a fellow soldier and a friend in this fight.
It felt like everything was coming full circle, but I’m beginning to think that God doesn’t close a lot, if any, of the circles in our lives. Every single experience we have draws from past experiences and leads to how we perceive new things.
With this and all the other experiences I’ve had this summer, I can hear God singing lyrics from a Coldplay song to me.
Don’t want to see another generation drop. I’d rather be a comma than a full stop.
God sews threads through our whole lives. Every moment is connected to other moments, to the story of the human race, and ultimately to Him.
If every teardrop is indeed a waterfall, I cried Niagara Falls this summer, but I didn’t cry it alone.
None of us get to Heaven by ourselves. We obviously need God, but we need to be able to see Him in one another as well. If I learned nothing else from my five weeks in Florida (which, I’m pretty sure I learned quite a bit), the solidification of this fact would be enough to propel me into mission. I would give anything to bring everyone I know into this togetherness, this family.
On our drive home, we listened to almost 24 hours of music. It ranged from Coldplay to Fifth Harmony, LFO (Summer Girls, anybody?! #throwback) to Beyonce, My Chemical Romance to Mumford & Sons to Zac Brown Band to Regina Spektor. But we smiled and danced and laughed and sang and cranked it the whole way home, which I pray we continue to do together with Heaven as the true home that awaits us all.
“Maybe I’m in the gap between the two trapezes” of summer training and getting to Wayne. This period of time is a comma (no pun intended). It’s not going to be easy to be away from the new friends I made, from having a set time to pray every day, and from the knowledge that everyone around me was experiencing what I was. But if that unity is even a glimpse or a fraction of what we’ll experience in Heaven, it will be so worth the wait.
I pray that you all know true friendship, true unity, and what it means to feel a togetherness that you can hardly put into words. May God be praised!