40 years later…
As we were just celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary, we accepted the invitation of one of Bruno’s sisters to participate in a first session for couples organized by the Chemin Neuf Community in July 1980. So we arrive at the « Maison des Pothières » in the Beaujolais region near Lyon (France) with our first child who is just 6 months old and we find about twenty couples accompanied by a few couples and singles at the service. We had some apprehensions, in particular for me (Bruno) to have to communicate on what touches me closely and to overcome my shyness; for me (Anne Marie) to have to entrust our child and not to know too much about what awaits us. They are quickly dissipated by a simple and warm welcome and eager and cheerful companions.
40 years later, we still have strong and fresh memories of this week, since it is at the origin of major steps in faith, as individuals and as a couple in our mutual commitment. Several highlights remain engraved in our memory:
- Following a major teaching on the mystery of Love (Love = happiness + suffering), the testimony of a couple on a text on a marriage at Cana from the Gospel of Jean on the 3rd evening, which gave its name to this mission to couples since that day, touched us in our unacknowledged poverty and fragility;
- The sharing in small groups of couples accompanied by a couple or 2 singles, allowing us to find ourselves touched by the questions raised;
- Israel dances allowing us to evolve collectively by integrating our couple in a joyful collective gesture;
- The importance of joy and celebration, through our daily life, living it together, the dishes among others!
- Especially the active presence of the Holy Spirit, this third person of the Trinity that we had somewhat left aside and that this charismatic context allows us to discover.
What we received
The essential remains in what we have received each one personally and for our couple.
Bruno: “Mainly I discovered during this week that the love I had for Anne Marie did not depend on me but that it was given to me and that, as a consequence, I should not be afraid to lose it in the future, as it comes from a source that cannot dry up; and also that I could be myself to be loved by Anne Marie, without trying to appear better or different from who I really was”.
Anne Marie: “From the first day a teaching on the Love of God touched my heart and what I will discover throughout this week will be this Love, God who loves me “as I am”, who does not ask me to be perfect, who tells me “let yourself be loved”… A discovery! which will also join our life as a couple because I realize how difficult it was for me to believe that Bruno loved me as I was! A path opens up, “a poor person who loves another poor person” will testify a couple, “good wine is for the end“…”. We still live today by the grace we received during that week when we asked for the baptism in the Holy Spirit!”
Since that week, discoveries and insights have acted as seeds throughout our life together, helping us to journey through our lives as a couple, as parents and now as grandparents, and in our lives in the community where we felt called to commit ourselves in the times that followed.
Bruno & Anne-Marie COUTELLIER