I first encountered the Focolare Movement in the year 2000. It is an international movement that seeks to bring about a united world by putting the words of the Gospel into practice in daily life. The movement, which started in Italy and was founded by Chiara Lubich, hopes to bring warmth and light into the world, hence the adoption of the Italian word “Focolare” or “fireplace”.
It was in 1999 up to the early part of 2000 when I underwent preventive chemotherapy sessions for my ovarian cyst. It was a very difficult time for me and my family but we found comfort in meditating. Instead of focusing on the physical discomfort, the side effects of the medical procedures, and worrying about what will happen in the future, the writings of Chiara taught me to live in the present moment. By reflecting on the message found in her books and articles, I was able to let go of my pain and fear and simply enjoy every moment. I became more open to opportunities that each moment brought. I became more mindful of what was happening around me and this awareness has helped me become more sensitive to the needs of others.
My passion for life was re-awakened and I realized that bringing warmth and joy to other people is my life mission. By practicing mindfulness day in and day out, I become one with the people around me. By leading them out of darkness and despair, I help not only them, but myself. By sharing their hurts and pain and doing small things for them, I experience wholeness and deeper happiness.
Sixteen years from that defining moment in my life, I still go through feelings of fear and anxiety at times. But it now takes less effort for me to stop and smell the roses, bask in the scent and enjoy the taste of a freshly brewed coffee, focus on the positive, be grateful for grace-filled moments, and live in the here and now.