One of the cardinal points in our formation as novices is to be moulded into “men of community”. A metamorphosis – or, a blossoming of that which was latent – which takes place through grace, prayer, commitment, learning, reflection. And, of course, the concrete events and rhythyms of everyday life.
One of these concrete tassels is in fact “Recreation”: a daily appointment after dinner in which, before concluding a day of lessons, household chores, apostolates/service in a parish, prayer, study, we regroup to relax together. We chat, play board games, discuss, swap jokes, watch a film… Some particularly tiring days, when the voice of one’s bed beckons earnestly, recreation can seem more something to put up with than an opportunity to unwind! But it’s truly worth the commitment to put community first and to value these short but golden daily encounters with brothers.
Every now and then, we come up with new ideas to re-create recreation, much to the Maestro’s chagrin… And so it was that, finding ourselves only in three one evening (all the others being out on Apostolic work, whilst the first years were still doing their month of Spiritual Exercises), and feeling in the mood for music beyond the limited repertoire of CDs in our collection (mainly a bizarre medley of Norah Jones, classical music, and Bob Marley), we decided to play some music videos off YouTube, each one choosing in turn.
And so it was that a new melody was born. Our characters revealed themselves in new ways, the rhythyms of our heart found new expression… subtle details previously overlooked were woven into the great patchwork that is our community through the notes and voices of Ennio Morricone, Mumford & Sons , Ex-Otago, Imagine Dragons, I Ratti della Sabina, The Staves.
A moment even of personal discovery, of how I have been ‘re-created’ during my time in the novitiate, when I saw the music video of Bon Iver’s “Holocene” for the first time since crossing Villa Sant’Ignazio’s threshold over a year ago.
I remember when I first entered the novitiate, I couldn’t understand why so many of my co-novices were so enthused by the idea of discussing films in ‘CineForum’: in my experience back then, films were just (as one Romanian novice put it) ‘to consume’, a simple if enjoyable form of entertainment rather than a form of art. And yet, immersed in a context of prayer and ‘seeking God in all things’, and having been slowly converted to seeing beauty and culture where I previously sought only cheap thrills, “Holocene” presented a completely new interpretation.
A video which previously pleased me ‘just’ for the ethereal beauty of the Icelandic landscapes, suddenly became a film describing my relationship with the Creator…a little boy, led by the Spirit (0:50, 4:34), gleeful, smiling, in sheer wonder before the great vastness and beauty that surround him, contemplating it all in silent joy. A child who is not terrified by the great, empty expanse that surrounds him, but feels serene, secure…because he sees, he feels that his Father is near, is there.
Almost certainly, Bon Iver didn’t have this interpretation in mind. But I’ll allow myself a certain licence to re-create.