My introduction to maisonnée was several years ago. It was spring and Msgr. Petrillo (aka Fr. Thomas) invited me to go to his group some night to “come and see.” He explained how they do praise, then share how God had touched them during the week etc. So I went.
Looking back through old notebooks, I actually found what I had written down and shared that first time.
I talked about how our spiritual life is like flowers: we plant bulbs in the fall with the confidence that the following spring they will grow and bloom. All they need is the light. With our spiritual life, we can be confident that it will grow and blossom in God’s light.
I also mentioned the Easter flowers in the church. No matter where they are positioned they bloom and, by nature, they bend toward the light. Hopefully, we can be like that with our spiritual lives— inherently knowing to bend and move toward the light.
Other people did their sharing and I remember thinking, oh brother. These people are all holy, quoting the word of God and here I am talking about flowers. This is absolutely ridiculous. I felt so out of place and wanted to just hide under the sofa. As I was leaving that night, in my head I was humming that song “One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong…”
I made it through another few nights before there was a break for the summer. I was relieved and really didn’t think I would be continuing. Everyone had been nice and welcoming. Nevertheless, it was clear to me that I just did not fit in. But when things started up again in the fall, most of the people had moved and I decided to give it another try. It ended up being me, Annette Onanga, Msgr Petrillo and Fr Dominique.
As you might imagine, we were all very different. The age range was 40-something to 70-something, we were from different places and backgrounds, languages, and our spiritualities were also quite different. But it didn’t seem to matter, not even a little. There was unity. We were diversity guided by love. Simply put, our little foursome was unified by our love for the Lord and our maisonnée was busting with joy. Obviously, I decided to stay and immerse myself in all of this.
I was really lucky. Through these early experiences my spiritual life took shape. Some words in “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf capture it quite well. She said:
No need to hurry,
No need to sparkle,
No need to be anybody but oneself.
No need to hurry:
You can’t rush it; your spiritual life has to evolve on its own. All you need to do is have an open heart — God and the Holy Spirit will do the rest.
No need to sparkle:
You don’t need to be fancy or do something special to get God’s attention. You already have it 24/7.
No need to be anybody but oneself:
Just be you. We’re each unique and relate to the Lord and encounter Him in different ways. This isn’t an accident; this is by design ! (Personally, I think God did this so He doesn’t get bored.)
Just as you need to be you, I need to be me — even if that means I’m talking about flowers when everyone else is quoting scripture. Because when I’m being who God made me to be, I’m my best and truest self and God is shining through me.That’s when God and I are in closest communion.
In maisonnée, I’ve been able to embrace my individuality and deepen my personal relationship with God, while sharing with others the joy that that relationship brings me. At its best, I think maisonnée can be a time of grace where there is giving and receiving; where there is almost a fusing of private and public spirituality; and, where we’re joined by two additional guests: peace and joy.
As I glance back at my spiritual journey, I think when I went to that first maisonnée I was like a tulip in early spring — still closed but filled with possibility. Over time, I’ve basked in and benefited from God’s light. And I think maisonnée has been the rich soil that has given me the spiritual nutrients I needed to open up and really blossom.