De La Mennais Brothers: Weaving A Tapestry Of Relationships Like Jesus

De La Mennais Brothers: Weaving A Tapestry Of Relationships Like Jesus

Friday, September 04, 2015

Contemplation in action

I like the way this writer expresses the these two apparent opposites as facets of the same reality (this is indeed an echo of the spirituality of our Founder Father Jean-Marie De La Mennais):
"For [mystics,] contemplation and action are not opposites, but two interdependent forms of a life that is one--a life that rushes out to a passionate communion with the true and beautiful." --Evelyn Underhill

Sunday, August 30, 2015

6: And finally... Today on Lake Geneva after a few days in the Alps with friend Roger Bauer before heading home... With a nice seafood salad :-) Happy days!!!

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5: A swimming pool in Saint-Brieuc (less exotic) last week for a 2.5km swim in under 1hr, after which an evening walk with good friend Frère Bob and our traditional crêpes and cider...

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4: A beach west of Les Cayes (nearly 2hrs drive on pretty rough roads) with our Brothers from the Les Cayes community...

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3: The Bassin Bleu (Blue Lagoon) near La Vallée de Jacmel... paradise!!

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2: With the Brothers from our community at Jacmel during our 2nd week tour of southern Haiti with my good friend Frère Lamy...

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It's been a summer of swimming rather than cycling for me this year: 4 times during our Haitian Educational Project (Team Win!) trip - 1 = a private beach north of Port-au-Prince with the youngsters from St. Louis Primary School, Delmas...

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

This is my life

It's summer and I'm feeling philosophical...

I'm in a train crossing through France, watching (on my fruit-flavoured tablet gadget) the lovely "Before Sunrise" with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke (dir. Richard Linklater - "Boyhood") whose characters first meet on a train crossing through Central Europe... Hawke's character comes out with a statement that summarises so well how I feel much of the time: 

"I always think that I'm still this 13 year old boy [i would say 17, myself] who doesn't really know how to be an adult, pretending to live my life, taking notes for when I'll really have to do it... kinda like I'm in a dress rehearsal for a Junior High play..."

... Except that the dress rehearsal IS the play, and it's for one night only!! 

Thoughts like this make me think back on my life and on all that has happened in the years since I was 17 and that simultaneously terrifying and reassuring moment of realisation in my heart that God wanted me to be a De La Mennais Brother... all the people I have come to know, the things I've done and not done, the places I've been to... 

And I feel so blessed!!

"Yesterday is a kid in the corner. Yesterday is dead and over. This is your life, are you who you want to be?... Don't close your eyes!" (Switchfoot, "This Is Your Life")

I'll keep on doing my best to keep my eyes open, to be the person God wants me to be because that is who I want to be. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Haiti 2015 - Day 9 (part 2)

As we were only staying one night in Jacmel our hosts, the Brothers at Jacmel (and ourselves) wanted to make the most of our time there. So once we’d had a quick tour of the property and the chance to get our sleeping arrangements sorted (youngsters on mattresses with their portable mosquito nets in a balcony area and the Brothers in the bedrooms that came off the balcony) we grabbed our swimming togs and the picnic lunch we’d brought with us and we headed for a beach about 20 mins. drive away in Lamy’s vehicle that he had the use of for the duration of our trip (a kind of imitation Jeep, Toyota-style, borrowed from the Juniorate community at Pétionville, just outside Port-au-Prince). This beach had a zoned off safe bathing area where the slope away from the shore was more shallow. The waves were still reasonably big though and you had to be careful of the current. In the end, I was the only one who went in for a proper swim (Max had a lengthy paddle), the rampant algae (seaweed) that was seemingly covering much of Haiti’s southern coastline closer in to shore putting off the rest of the group.

Bro. Jacques getting a little shut eye on the way to the beach.

A refreshing end to our picnic lunch on the beach: drinking fresh coconut water straight from the coconut. Once we then got them cut into pieces Aaron gladly polished off the insides of the coconuts of most of the group. I would have loved to help but I was starting to suffer from the nausea (heat and humidity-induced, I think) that would stay with me for the rest of the trip and drastically reduce my appetite.

Once we got back to Jacmel it was time for a siesta for some, a further stroll around the grounds of the Jacmel property for others, and then the beginning of what become thereafter the nightly whole-team card games. The four teens had already been entertaining themselves with this pastime in Delmas, but on this day Bro. Jacques and myself joined in, with Bro. Francis initially an observer and then a full participant from the next evening onwards. We tried a variety of games, but it soon became clear that the most fun could be had from playing either Bluff or Cheat (which are basically variations of the same game).

Much hilarity ensued once they realised the michievous willingness of Bro. Jacques to bluff and the unbridled joy he expressed when he got away with it!


Supper was had outdoors with the sea a beautiful backdrop. Like everywhere else we went the Brothers prepared a wonderful spread with plenty of cold drinks to wash it all down. Up until now we’d not had much of the homemade beer (only 1 or 2% of alcohol in strength) that our communitites in Haiti are renowned for, but here it was available in plenty. Bro. Jacques in particular took to drinking it at any available opportunity. It made a change from the filtered/bottled water of which we drunk many litres a day, though it was certainly an acquired taste. The beer from the Jacmel community was I think the best we tasted throughout the whole trip.

A chance to relax and chat just before supper.

After supper we were taken for a walk along Jacmel promenade which had seen much investment in the past few years. Jacmel is a popular tourist destination for those in Port-au-Prince who can afford to get away to the south coast beaches. At about 4 hrs. drive people would sometimes come down for a weekend Friday to Sunday. It is one of the locations that could eventually become popular with foreign tourists too.

In the end, I think our teens got the best night’s sleep on the balcony. They had the best of the light breeze coming in off the sea. In terms of sleeping arrangements during our trip, in Delmas it was a bit hit-and-miss for our teens, as we’d arranged for them to sleep in an air conditioned computer room: a double bonus in that they had computer internet access (+ eventually smartphone wifi) for sending messages home (I got these blog articles started during the evenings I spent with them in that room) and they had cool air… the only problem was that most evenings there were power cuts of varying lengths during which it would go back to being near unbearably humid. But I think it was worth it for the time they did have the air con and for the chance to send reassuring messages home.