Chiara Lubich once wrote, “To be humble does not mean only avoiding ambition; it also means being aware of one’s own nothingness and to realise how small we are in front of God and thus place ourselves in his hands, like children.”
The school of life
During the pandemic, like so many people all over the world, I was forced to isolate at home. Although the relationship with some of my clients continued via the internet, the real “work” that needed to be done during that period regarded me and the behaviour patterns I had acquired. I no longer had a reason not to help my children with their homework, or find things for them to do, or care for elderly parents, or help my wife in the kitchen by inventing new menus…. Prior to that time, I had underestimated the value that these small daily gestures have in helping us understand ourselves: suddenly, I had the opportunity to discover fundamental dimensions of our existence. But perhaps prayer – the one-to-one relationship with God – was the most important discovery I made during this period. I had begun to neglect it because I was so busy with my research and work: it had become one of the many things I tried to fit into my day alongside so many others. Suddenly, there were no limitations on my time and I began to reflect on life, death, hope…. I don’t know what it is like for other people, but for me this forced exile has become a real school, more effective than many books I could have read or courses I could have followed.
(M.V. – Switzerland)
Growing old together
After decades of a happy and loving marriage, I realized that I was becoming intolerant towards my wife. She often doesn’t agree with the things I do and always tells me so. One day, after hearing her repeat the same thing twice, I felt angry and firmly told her that I knew what I had to do because she had already told me. Naturally, she was upset by my attitude but so was I. I told her I was sorry, but inside of me I felt a great pain because I hadn’t respected her or accepted that she was ageing. I wondered how many things I say and do that hurt my wife. Soon afterwards, our niece and her partner came to visit and we told them what had happened. As they listened, for no apparent reason, our niece began to cry and her partner took her hand and began to caress it. After a few moments silence, they confided to us that they had decided to split up because of their differences in character. However, listening to our story, they were moved by the beauty of growing old together and always trying to rebuild love.
(P.T. – Hungary)
To listen and understand
When I think back over 25 years of caring for my patients, I feel like I’ve done nothing more than listen to them. I always remember the woman who came to see me when I first began to work as a GP. She had previously visited so many other hospitals in Switzerland and Italy. She described one detail about her personal history and I realised that this could be the key to the ailments from which she had suffered for over 15 years. When I asked her if she had ever spoken to other doctors about this, she said that it had never come to her mind before. She added, “It’s only now that you are listening to me that I’ve remembered it.” Her visit was more useful than any professional training could have been. Yes, because listening, especially today when everything is done quickly, should always correspond to “understanding”. I have been learning this for the last 25 years and the lesson is not finished yet! Listening is an expression of the love which Christ exemplified: to be empty of yourself so as to be able to welcome the other person.
(Ugo – Italy)
To savour each moment
When, after the last tests, the doctor told me that the cancer had reappeared, my first thought was for the family – for our children and grandchildren. My husband and I talked about the situation calmly and we decided to live whatever time I have left in the best possible way and so leave them with the legacy of a love lived faithfully till the end. We have begun to experience days that are certainly marked by pain but are also filled with a new colour and warmth. Not only has love increased among all, but I would say that we are learning to live the time by “savouring each moment”. Every gesture is unique because it could be the last, and so could every phone call, every word said. The attention we give to each other, the tone of our voices, the attempts to create harmony between us… everything has taken on a new value. My husband is surprised at how much joy we are experiencing at the moment and he often says, “It is the only good we can leave to our children!” In the moments dedicated to prayer, we feel heaven opening up, because it has become a real act of thanksgiving.
(G.C. – Italy)
edited by Stefania Tanesini
(taken from The Gospel of the Day, Citta Nuova, year VI, no.5, September-October 2020)