I write this on Saturday night in Moshi, Tanzania, where I just had a lovely talk with two fathers: Fr. Leopardo from the parish across the street, and Fr. Severin from the parish 10 miles up the Arusha Road. We got to talking about Mt. Kilimanjaro. Tomorrow I will begin a seven-day trek to the summit of that magnificent peak, which I beheld tonight during my rosary walk. I was on a quiet country road with cornfields on either side, and there in the northern sky was a cloud that didn’t look like the other clouds. The white was a little whiter, and there seemed to be no hard edges to it. The first time you see a really tall mountain on the horizon you are confounded. Nothing solid could be that high in the sky. Surely it must be a cloud bank. But it is not a cloud bank. Indeed, for some time after the gloom had already deepened here in the valley, I could see the setting sun blaze off Kibo’s glacier 16,000 feet above us. The Masai tribe worships that mountain, the source of water for their flocks, and one can readily understand their awe.
Back at the Lodge, my two new priest friends were talking about their Trinity Sunday homilies. “Kilimanjaro has three peaks—Kibo, Shira, and Mawenzi. The Holy Trinity is everywhere in nature!” Fr. Severin exclaimed. “We must tell that to the people.” I will concelebrate the early Mass at the local parish and not understand many words but I will see the joy on the face of the Tanzanian priest as he speaks of the Trinity. He will tell his people, who will receive this word with joy, that the deepest truth of the universe is that God is a community of persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He has imprinted a desire for community—to love and be loved by others—in every fiber of the created world. Even the one mountain Kilimanjaro has three distinct peaks, which “communicate” with each other, which stay together.
On this Father’s Day, I bless my own father for staying with my mother for 60 years, and my mother with staying with my father. May God grant us all to imitate His own communion of love by never giving up on each other. Even should we have to be separated, may we be faithful to our very natures by continuing to love those God has put in our lives.