Invitation to Join the Banquet
Have you ever reflected on how important it is to be invited? Some invitations can have a life changing effect on those who receive them. An invitation made sincerely, with love, can reach far beyond the intended initial recipient. That single invitation can expand and possibly extend to others, allowing many more to receive the gift of love and community.
The best invitations are extended out of generosity and sincerity to share something beautiful, something life affirming, something spiritual. A great invitation is like a gift you would love to receive yourself, but made even better when you give it away.
Some invitations are not always received or accepted immediately. Patience and persistence are sometimes necessary. The invitee may not be ready to receive the invitation, maybe they are afraid, unsure about the commitment the invitation brings. The invitation should not have an expiration date. Ask again. When the time is right, the opportunity will present itself and the invitation will be accepted.
The invitation I am referring to is an invitation to join a Theresian meeting and learn about what it means to be a Theresian. As I reflect back on my first invitation to attend a Theresian meeting, the person extending this beautiful invitation to me was someone I love and respect. I know now that the invitation was extended to me because she cared about me, and knew I probably needed it in my life.
About 13 years ago, my morning routine involved going to Curves to exercise before work. There was a group of about 7 or 8 ladies that would meet at Curves every morning at 6:30 a.m. This is when I first met Mary Clare Albrecht. Mary Clare has been a Theresian for 56 years and is an original member of Day One Community, the first community in Houston.
Often times while working out at Curves, I would take my place right next to Mary Clare as we would travel around the circuit together, exercising all of our muscle groups, and enjoying great conversation while we did so. Group conversations ranged from what had happened on Grays Anatomy with McSteamy or McDreamy the night before, to how our kids were doing in school, to community or neighborhood news and events. Mary Clare and I often talked about our families and Strake Jesuit High School. All three of my sons had attended this school, so did Mary Clare’s four sons. And at that time my youngest son, Tim, was a classmate of Mary Clare’s grandson, Will. I grew to love Mary Clare’s honesty, sense of humor and motherly wisdom. On one occasion the group conversation was about a new New York Times best-selling book, 50 Shades of Gray. Several women in the group were reading this book and discussing it. I had never heard about this book. During the group conversation about this book, Mary Clare leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Bridget, you don’t want to read that.” Enough said. In that 7-word sentence, Mary Clare demonstrated the motherly love and wisdom that my own mother would have imparted to me if she had been there.
Occasionally, Mary Clare would mention something to me about a women’s support group she belonged to. She would mention how the ladies within her community had seen each other through the many ups and downs and joys and losses experienced throughout life. This community experience sounded interesting to me, but I still wasn’t sure about it when her first invitation came to join her at a monthly meeting of her community, Living Waters. After all I was so busy with work, helping care for my mother-in-law who was suffering from dementia, and dealing with other family issues, and volunteer commitments. Or was I just throwing up road blocks? I did have a few legitimate time conflicts. Mary Clare persisted. So, by the time the second or third invitation came, I went. I was so glad I did!
After that first initial invitation, I was invited to join Living Waters or be a part of a newly forming community. I was so excited. I immediately shared my experience of community with several of my close friends and we all attended a Theresian Information Night a few weeks later at Maribeth Anderson’s home. From that meeting two communities were formed, Spiritual Springs and Fountains of Grace.
Today I marvel at the gift of that loving invitation extended to me by Mary Clare and the profound impact it has had on all aspects of my life. What a blessing it has been and continues to be! Sharing the gift of Theresian spirituality and community is something we should all want to share. Who will you invite to the banquet of love and community?