Saturday, August 13, 2011

When Charity Trumps My Morning Coffee

I'm still tired from my late-night socializing, but now I'm also full of joy. Two friends and I just returned from a local nursing home, where for an hour we sang with a handful of residents and played trivia games.

One attraction of the ecclesiastical movement Communion and Liberation is its emphasis on living the reality of Christ - not the Christ in our heads, not the Christ of our abstraction, of our preconception, not the Christ of ritual, but the Christ as a here and now present reality.

For example: It's fine to sit in my backyard, talking to my friends about the state of the world and "solving" various problems. It's another thing to actually do something.

One hallmark of a School of Community is charity work. Father Carron tells us: "Fr. Giussani created a gesture to help us understand this law of charity, starting from experience: charitable work. He says that in order to understand, knowing is not enough --you must do."

So once a month, members of my School of Community drive to a local nursing home and spend an hour with residents. This morning was the morning and it could not have been any more inconvenient for me.

I had stayed up late with dear friends, drinking wine and talking into the wee hours at their swim club. When I woke up, all I wanted was a cup of coffee. But I had to be at the nursing home within the hour. I didn't have time for a cup of coffee. I had to shower, and dress and head over to the nursing home.  I really didn't want to go.

And yet, when I arrived, these companions were waiting for us. They had gathered in a sunny room and their faces were filled with joy and anticipation. And when our hour of singing and talking was over, we all shook hands, looked into one another's eyes, and smiled.


  1. Yes! It's amazing how stepping outside of ourselves brings us so much more joy than staying within ourselves would have.

  2. I agree with Dwija!
    Nursing homes are such great places to practice the works of mercy- their abundant and safe (unlike ministering to the homeless around here)! It reminds me of this great program they they had in the last place we lived where the kid sing/dance and play around the residence. I'm just thinking that maybe it's something I could start around here.
    ...And I'll bet it was worth every minute of that caffeine headache you had afterward too ;-)

  3. Sarah: Yes, it was!
    The nursing home I visit has a playgroup that regularly visits. It is good for little people to see old people and not be afraid of them. And vice versa! I bet if you contacted a nursing home near you they would welcome such a "program." One thing I have learned is this need not be complicated or even a weekly commitment. One thing young and old alike enjoy is singing!

  4. Hi Allison, I love your blog with nice lay out and ideas.
    Welcome to bloggymoms,
    Bushra Syed
    Lets follow each other and stay connected forever.