“Cuba is a beautiful land. It has the atmosphere of a country, which in the 1950’s was in its bloom. Aside from a few buildings and quarters that have been restored in the centre of Havana and other cities, generally there is a state of abandonment.”
Agostino and Maris share something about their trip to Cuba. They are a family of the Focolare of Vicenza, Italy. After eleven years in the Dominican Republic, they now live in Italy near Rome.
“We could say that we lived those days in Cuba being constantly deeply moved by the genuineness we found in people. We would even go as far as to say that the way they are forced to live in that situation is downright heroic. One family told us how with great effort they had put aside $20.00 for a pair of shoes for one of their children. One Saturday afternoon they went out to buy the shoes, but weren’t able to find anything worth buying at that price and decided to give up the idea for the time being. On their way home they met a very poor family – mother, father and child – whose shoes were destroyed. They looked at one another and decided to give a part of their money for the shoes of that family’s boy. They wouldn’t be the best shoes, but surely better than the ones he was wearing. A few days later grandmother came to visit them. She carried an envelope with some money inside that had been sent by relatives, and she thought she would share some of it with them. It was the exact amount that was lacking to buy the shoes for their own boy.
We travelled some 3000 km with several means of transport; in the city we went about on foot, on bicycle, on horse and buggy and with taxi-bikes.
We met with families in Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba, Camaguey, Florida, Holguin and Banes, also with engaged couples, to delve into the spirituality of unity and how it is lived in the family. The groups often included people who didn’t have any religious faith, but it was precisely these people who said that this spirituality was for everyone.
We had lunches and dinners with many families. What a beautiful experience it was to be welcomed into their homes and share their lives! The shared many stories of concrete love. One family had gone to visit a couple who had given birth to a baby boy: they realized that the sugar was running out, which they received each month from the State, and it would be quite costly to buy more. When they returned home, they took the sugar they had for themselves and gave it to the family who had none. The couple were surprised and exclaimed: “Now what will you do?” That same evening grandma knocked at the door. She brought her portion of sugar that she was no longer able to use because of health reasons.
As we shared in the joys and hardships of our new friends we seemed to understand why this spirituality had begun during war time. Chiara Lubich didn’t wait for better days to begin loving with actions and deeds, but precisely in a time of great difficulty. This confirmed for us that it was possible to live the Gospel in any situation.”