This is a call to us, too – to have an open mind and heart in order to recognize and care for the needs of others; to use our talents, our time, for the common good at home and beyond. It is an invitation to put ourselves last in order to be first, to encourage everyone toward the inevitable future: universal brotherhood.
Listening for hours
Loving a neighbour sometimes means simply listening… even for hours! It happened to me this morning, when around 9:30am a friend who spends most of the year abroad came to visit me. He told me about his father who had recently passed away, his caregiver, various family problems, and about how abroad, in order not to miss Sunday Mass, he travels two hours each way to reach the chapel where it is celebrated in Italian… It was after 12 noon when we said our goodbyes. Only then did I realize how much time I had spent listening to him.
Each time I came home from work, I would always see how tired my wife was. I asked God how I could help her, and one evening, during dinner, I came up with the idea of a weeklong competition in the kitchen. Each of us had to prepare a different dinner (together with my grandmother there are exactly seven of us). Even our third son, a teenager who was typically content with things as they are, got hooked on the competition.
Once the week had passed, one of our daughters suggested we continue, even giving grades. Here it became even more fun. With great joy I noticed my wife relieved and happy to see her children in action. Once, talking about it among ourselves, she told me that she was discovering new and unexpected sides of our kids.
That look said it all
I had retired earlier than I had planned to be near my wife, who had been feeling ill for some time. Unfortunately, she was suffering from a degenerative disease. Day after day I saw her abilities diminish, her speech, her movements…
Where was the wonderful woman with whom I had dreamed of a happy life, a large and beautiful family, a commitment to be an open home for all? Now she was there, motionless. She moved her eyes, and that look said it all.
My faith was not a living one, partly because, as a philosophy teacher, I know the tricks of the mind and how it deceives us. But since the conversation with my wife had become silent, I sensed that she was happy if I prayed beside her, for her, with her.
Two months ago she passed away in silence. She left behind so much good, which both I and our children cannot quantify. She sowed a seed of light in us.
When the illness initially appeared, she had said: “Life is now uphill. I would like to walk it with you. But God asks me to know how to say thank you with my life.”
Edited by Maria Grazia Berretta. From ‘Il Vangelo del Giorno’, Città Nuova, year VII, n.4, September–October 2021