Thursday, July 7, 2011

Angelus over Lake Minnewaska

There was a moment yesterday at noon that summed up everything beautiful and wacky about the CL Family Vacation. About 200 people, adults and children, were strewn about a field above Lake Minnewaska in the Catskills (not unlike the field pictured), about 10 miles from our resort hotel. The sun was glorious and warm. Sedentary bunches were clustered under scattered trees for shade, while in the open area in front of them an insane field game had just wrapped up.

The game involved teams holding particolored parachutes 20 feet across and moving around with these parachutes while trying to catch members of opposing teams beneath their parachutes. It is not easy to be caught by a parachute, especially when it is wielded by eighteen people of all ages and therefore heights who move together with more or less non-coordination. Therefore, one is usually caught only after being wrestled violently to the ground and pinned by a large male twice one’s size. The opportunities for personal injury are unlimited.

I myself had just been caught by the parachute, thanks to my friend John, half my age and twice my strength. I had successfully eluded the opposing parachute until only 15 seconds were left on the clock when suddenly I heard the words “I love you, Webster” and felt two inescapable arms wrap me from behind and throw me to the ground. I struggled only because I knew that was what I was supposed to do, but there was no point. The parachute covered me for the statutory three-count with only five seconds to play.

Now the game was over, and national CL responsible Chris Bacich was again wielding the bullhorn he had used to manage the parachute game. “Everyone together for the Angelus!” he called. In my limited experience of Catholic life, the Angelus is not usually signaled by a man with a bullhorn. Those of us on the game field responded quickly to his first call by gathering nearer him, but those comfortably seated in the shade 50-75 yards away were slower to respond. So Chris continued, exhorting “all you lazy people under the trees,” then getting personal with comments like:

“Let’s see. Who do I see? Rick K—. Rick, are you still a convert or is that you bobbing back and forth under the tree?” (Rick is a convert from Juddaism.) Several mildly embarrassing ad hominem remarks like this one boomed across the open field until the sitters reluctantly stood and moved toward us. Finally, we were, most of us, together.

“The angel of the Lord declared to Mary . . . ”

With such moments, recognizing the presence of the Lord in the midst of the mayhem of life, does CL continue to capture my heart. Veni sancte spiritus . . .

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