After walking around Loyola for a while, you’ll notice that there’s something different. It’s not just about the nice scenery, or the simple lodging, or the masses of people from different countries you don’t meet everyday. Though all these are part of what is making such an awesome experience, of course, despite the fact that it’s only been a day here (but I could definitely do with less snoring~ haha).
No, there is something more – in the air, among the people. There is joy.
Everyone here is so carefree, precisely because we’ve laid aside our cares for 3 weeks to be here. Everyone is welcoming, because we are supposed to be welcoming, as Jesus was. Everyone smiles, dances randomly and says hello to each other, because we are all here as pilgrims.
I might have thought it was contrived, if I was sitting back home and hearing about it, rather than experiencing it for myself. But instead, it reminds me of what CS Lewis said – “The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he likes them; the Christian, trying to treat everyone kindly, finds himself liking more and more people as he goes on including people he could not even have imagined liking at the beginning.”
But it does make me think – when all this ends, and we go back to a place where our cares are unforgotten and where not everyone behaves like a pilgrim – can we still be joyful?
But you know, I think we can. After all, it’s not like we’re only Christians when we go for a pilgrimage or when we step into a church or when we serve in ministry. We’re Christians every day of our lives.
“A joyful heart. That is your life – leave sadness behind… And then we are led to make a conscious choice, to opt for joy… It is not only there when everything is easy. When we are faced with a challenging task, the effort can reawaken joy. And even in times of trial, it can remain buried like embers under the ashes, without going out. In praise, we let it well up in us, and all at once the moment is illuminated.” – Brother Alois, Letter from Taize (Chile)