Today was the first day of the Ignatian Gathering in Sydney, to celebrate the end of Magis and prepare for the start of World Youth Day on Tuesday. It has been brillant catching up with all of our friends from our Experiment group and seeing what other groups have been up to in other parts of Australia, Cambodia, Phillipines, and Indonesia.
This afternoon, the World Youth Day cross and icon arrived at St. Ignatius Riverview College, where we are staying. At first I wasn't sure what to expect, but this gorgeous piece of wood with its simple stain was very beautiful and powerful, especially during tonight's vigil. We had an opportunity to venerate the cross prior to dinner and the skits representing our Magis group's experience. After the evening of praise & worship music and the various exciting and entertaining presentations, all the pilgrims were invited to participate in a simple vigil service with the cross.
It was one of the first experiences on this trip to sit in silent meditation and be present to the Lord, and I found it very peaceful and healing. It is amazing, as others have shared this week and tonight, how easy it is to be distracted in our daily lives and to miss the glaringly obvious graces of God and signs of his love and mercy. We get focused on the logistics, the details, the plans - we get caught up in our own desires and our own needs and our own wants and our own ideas of how things are supposed to be and where our attention is supposed to be focused. But here it was, right in front of our face, and even in the early part of tonight it was difficult to focus on it. It was difficult to make God the center of our life and attention, even for a short period of time. I think for many of us, that will be the challenge we continue to pray on throughout the week and beyond World Youth Day.
I know this was a bit heavy for a blog, but the spirit of the moment called and asked me to write it down. Don't worry, we still had a variety of random laughter and singing once the rest of our group arrived today, including stories involving fast food, dreams with singing, and more.