It has been a long time since I stood here. I was 21 and was about to leave after two years as a part of the staff here – from what Father Ford called my other home.
He asked me to come up and say a few words at the service. I remember standing in my choir robe and didn’t know what to say, but then again it was impossible to say no to Father Ford. So I cried. And said there was a lot I wanted to say to you, but it was too difficult at that time.
What I did want to say back then was: Thank you. Thank you for letting me into your community of love, prayer, work, laughs, sadness and more love. Love of your family, friends, neighbors, and kids like me that came to you to achieve some kind of new knowledge of the world that we couldn’t get through books in school. To grow up in a new setting. I learned a lot about love back then 30 years ago.
I wanted to say thank you for teaching me some of the values in life that I wouldn’t be able to comprehend without being a part of your community. The value of sharing. The value of giving. The value of welcoming your neighbor to your house or your front porch. The true meaning of loving your neighbor. I wanted to say that I was going to miss you. That I was so sorry to leave. But that I had to, to be able to go on in a life far, far away. I had to go back to my family and a girl I loved.
You must think it is kind of odd to say this because I didn't hold on to you through letters, phone calls, or whatever we used to get in touch with back then. It has been a mixture of being afraid to miss you too much, getting into a new life again, and in the end feeling ashamed for taking so long to reach out. I am truly sorry for that. Some I have reached on Facebook, and lately, we have communicated a lot to be able to meet this weekend. I hope to keep in touch more now.
Now I am here. With my son, who has the same hair and beard as I had 30 years ago. Whom I am so happy to travel with and share some experiences with. Whom I have wanted for a long time to show what I have been talking about when I said I lived here for two years. Because those two years have formed my life and my life choices more than I knew when I left you.
First of all, I had to change all my political views. I had seen that what may be an American Dream for many, is not to the benefit for all. There has to be some kind of support for a lot of people to be able to be a part of the progress in the country.
Secondly, I had to open my doors to whoever needed my help. Even though I was not able to help, I could do something for them helping their way through.
Finally, I now know the value of being there. Facing whatever is coming toward you even though it scares you. Embracing the love you can get, and give, to your loved ones. But most of all being there even though you don’t know if anybody needs you. Care for them anyhow. Care for the ones that you don’t even relate to, but want to create a better life for. That is some of the very important impacts it had on me staying at Emmaus House. That is something I can never repay you for. That is something that I am truly grateful for.
So, thank you for having me here. Thank you for letting me grow up a little here. Thank you for letting me get to know your children. Thank you for you.
– Anders Wang Maarbjerg