Chaos might be overstating the zeitgeist in the world these days, but there are certain places and times where the mood can be less than peaceful. This past weekend, many in the US and throughout the world were moved to high spirits, distress, and even anger. While Christ came to bring both the sword and peace, Carmelites in DC followed his footsteps this past weekend. Taking the path of prophetic contemplation inspired by Elijah and Mary, some member of the student house in DC were move to act in charity and mercy.
Hearing that a number of non-citizens were being offered welcome (in the midst of uncertainty) at airports around the nation, Br. Matthew Gummess invited some of his fellow student friars to a ministry of presence at that international arrival terminal of Dulles Airport outside DC. After supper on Sunday evening, Br. Mikhail Woodruff and Br. Kevin Keller decided to join Br. Matthew in this merciful ministry. Around 9PM they arrived at Dulles.
There were a few travelers arriving. They were greeted by cheers of welcome, signs of reassurance, offers of food and drink, and if needed pro-bono legal representation. Many of the helpers present had been there for many hours; some were even there the previous day. The three friars wandered through the crowd to hear stories, share hope, and offer a friendly prayerful presence. Br. Mikhail was a voice of kindness and impartiality in conversation with reporters. Br. Matthew offered moral support and chocolates to—travelers, airport staff, security, lawyers, and anybody who might need a little boost. Br. Kevin did what he could to try to make sense of all that was happening.
Then something vital began to develop. They met the Muslim Chaplin from Georgetown, Imam Yahya Hendi. He agreed that it would be good to open the atmosphere to God’s indwelling through a Muslim-Christian prayer service. Together with the Imam, those present were called to prayer by Br. Matthew with some verses of Amazing Grace. Br. Mikhail invoked the presence of God in a warm and hospitable prayer. Then Imam Hendi passionately prayed on behalf of the gathering—roughly fifty people from diverse faiths—offering words of peace, justice, and integrity.
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