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Dimora: a Reflection on Home

Dimora is an Italian word that means “residence” or “home.” I just returned from the Letino Festival, whose theme this year was Dimora. Letino Festival is held annually at the end of July in Letino, Italy, a small mountain village three hours south of Rome. After three days touring the bustling Eternal City and its breathtaking vaults of sacred spaces, it was quite refreshing and restorative to land in the simple, fresh country air of Letino, terraced on a mountainside, overlooking fields strewn with hay bales and olive tree groves. Church bells and cattle bells christened the softly dewed morning scape as we made our way to Lauds in the chapel. Glorious chanting welcomed each poor beggar heart and offered lavish nourishment and soothing vibrations, healing spirit and body. Home.

After Mass and Adoration each morning, two lectures were given on the theme Dimora. An architect, a realtor, a philosopher, historian, poet, and a Benedictine abbot. They shared generously with us their life and work and how they seek the essence of home. American philosopher John McCarthy said, “When we welcome others into our home, we feel more at home in our house. We receive our home as a gift, and in so doing, we become home for others.” Becoming home for others. Yes, Lord, make Your dwelling in me, that we may together be a home for others’ hearts.

In the afternoon, we enjoyed workshops, engaging in poetry, folk dance, Ukrainian chant, iconography, Italian language, bracelet making, hiking, canoeing. Entering the art, enfleshing our experience in movement, experimenting with creativity. Being at home with ourselves, in our bodies, as we learn, expand, and create.

In the evening, we returned to the chapel for Vespers. Homecoming. Rest. Comfort.

“For over all, his glory will be shelter and protection:
shade from the parching heat of day,
refuge and cover from storm and rain.” – Isaiah 4:6

Thence to dinner with friends, followed by an evening concert. One night a Ukrainian friend shared with us her Musica Electronica, pulsating rhythms of the earth, met with her ethereal floating voice, piercing and lifting our hearts Heavenward. Her deeply interior and contemplative pieces poured out a tender sadness of her country, as well as a Life Stream that cannot be marred. The following night, we ascended the mountain to the old castle for a beautiful piano concert, given by a nineteen-year-old man, who played with such sensitive, skillful maturity. The tender notes of Chopin and Scriabin, dripped into my being so sweetly as the night air’s gentle breeze and the locusts humming in the trees symphonized with the starry sky. At home in this heightened moment of nourishing beauty. All was right with the world.

Dimora. We all pine for our true dimora. Our everlasting home. Our everlasting mountainside city, where we can dwell in utter safety and security, peace, rest, joy. Union and communion. The banquet where we are fed. The shade where we are calmed and soothed. We are given moments here, rich tastes of the Dimora to come. Let us receive these glimmers of home, embrace them with thanksgiving, take our dimora in our Lord’s Heart, and allow our poor hearts to be His sweet dimora; together, as one, He can make our hearts a home for each beautiful soul we encounter.

Copyright 2022, Marian West

Hospitality of the Heart by Servant of God Catherine Doherty

What the world needs most today is the hospitality of the heart, a hospitality that goes beyond giving someone a meal or a bed for the night, good and necessary as these things are.

The hospitality I am talking about is much more deep and profound. The hospitality of the heart means accepting all others as they are, allowing them to make themselves at home in one’s heart.

To be at home in another person’s heart means touching love, the love of a brother or sister in Christ. Touching the love of another means realizing that God loves us. For it is through the other, our neighbour, our brother or sister, that we can begin to understand the love of God.

Especially is this true in our strange technological loneliness that has separated us so thoroughly, not only from our neighbour, but from our fathers, mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles, aunts, cousins, and other members of our family.

Our technological age has begotten a terrible loneliness! We must begin to give the hospitality of the heart. In other words, we must open ourselves to a sharing of friendship that is rooted in the very heart of Christ, whom we call (consciously or unconsciously) a friend, even unto this day.

We have to shed our “stiff upper lips.” We have to be open to the other, share with the other, express our love for the other. This can be done only if we open the doors of our hearts.

Let us do that now.

Adapted from Restoration, August 1971

Marian West is a Catholic “heartist”, seeking to live the art of heart to heart in every encounter. She lives in Lancaster, PA, and is grateful to have recently opened a space called Marigold, offering the Grace of the healing arts. Marian is a modern dancer, vocal artist, licensed massage therapist and labor doula. In 2006, Marian received her B.A. in Dance from DeSales University and then received her massage training at the Swedish Institute in Manhattan in 2007. She served as a missionary with Heart’s Home in Brooklyn for 14 months, offering a presence of compassion to the abandoned, lonely, and suffering. Marian prays that the Blessed Mother be her heart, hands, movement, and melody to touch Christ’s broken body in our thirsting world.

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