Father Thomas Ryan, sharing his experience in Turkey during a trip with RumiForum:

Father Thomas Ryan

My name is Tom Ryan, and I am a Catholic priest. In Christian faith understanding the whole notion of grace is very close to the experience of gift. This has been a very palpable experience of gift in all kinds of very concrete ways. The risk of being plebeian when arrives at the airport, get off the plane and there is a bus waiting. You come to the hotel and there is a room reservation already made for you. You experience hunger and the food is set before you copiously. Thirst; and the water is continually handed out to you. You want to visit a museum and it is closed to the public but hey it gets opened and you can have a special tour. That is what I mean by concrete experience of gift. So that’s first level for me. It is one thing to take a trip and it is another to find compatible interesting people with whom to travel, and that too has been a concrete experience of gift.

The diversity of backgrounds both educational, religious and the wonderful conversations that we’ve had sitting in the bus, over meals, walking along in the streets have been a very rich element of the experience. For me personally it has been a very valuable experience because I’ve just moved to the Washington metropolitan area, and I feel like I am coming out of this weeklong experience with like 16-20 new friends with whom there is a rich experience that has been shared and one which with we can build relations and I look forward to that. I am also very thrilled to learn more about the Gulen movement and its very impressive works and I look forward to being an active supporter collaborator with you in ways yet unforeseen. I think just to keep the edge there for the planning team, a couple of reflections: I think the instinct was exactly right that we would go to the Jewish museum today. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to do everything today but I think that kind of religious inclusiveness as a set part of the program would be entirely appropriate with the nature of the movement and the composition of the people in the group. I would also like to encourage the team just to be kind themselves and give themselves a rest day in between end of one group and beginning of another..