We have been married for 50 years and have two children and 6 grandchildren. Our commitment to live the spirituality of unity as animators of New Families is concreted in following a group of separated people and this is a great gift for us.
We did not have a specific preparation, however we have grasped from these people who have had the painful experience of being wounded in love, the primary need to be recognized and loved without any prejudice.
At the beginning we were afraid that people would be embarrassed at confronting us , a united couple, and their being separated, but instead they testify to us that the group is their new family, composed of new brothers.
Our house, according to them is “the house”, the shared dinner is a long-awaited antidote to the loneliness of their daily meals. To have someone you can phone, at any time and share your pain, difficulties, needs: from nostalgia for a lost family to a stove for a cold bedroom, from the pain of a separated daughter to a broken computer card, means to feel included, means a return to the dimension of love.
The art of loving that we learned from Chiara Lubich is very important; trying to love everyone, to love first, to become “one “with these brothers. This means being attentive to every word, consoling without clichés, being available but it also spurs us to face situations, suggesting the cure of malaise: to throw ourselves into implementing universal brotherhood in our daily lives. The wound of the loss of a conjugal relationship remains, but starting to love again contrasts the resentment that makes life bitter. There is a beautiful metaphor that says “a wound is a slit of light”.
I remember one of the first encounters on the terrace of our house. In all, about twenty people who were all new to us. Each of them had a different story and after getting to know each other and revealing it, we felt involved. We, who are not separated, had also lived many moments of fatigue and loneliness, so it was not difficult to feel like brothers in a family atmosphere that continues to this day.
The title of a conference we attended last February in Assisi for those who are separated was entitled Rebuild by love and we are witnesses to what has happened and what is happening in the ten-year journey with these brothers.
In the last meeting , one of them told us that she had been in doubt as to whether to continue attending the group, where the male part is predominant, but then she realized that when she returns home she feels stronger and more available with others and with her ex-husband, for example by taking the son of him and his new companion to the airport. One of our friends, coming from a strongly masculine culture, was convinced that his family had broken up because his wife and three children had not followed his indications/impositions, openly recognized that attending the group changed him and rebuilt his relationship with his ex-wife and children, even if he still lives alone. Another one, even in the heartbreaking nostalgia for his lost family, has thrown himself into loving those around him; and in his condition of multiple sclerosis, a disease that has affected his life, he tries to get in touch with others by forming a prayer group and self-help group.
An exceptional event after the congress in Castel Gandolfo in 2000 was that one of the participants in the group was reconciled with her husband from whom she was legally separated, embarrassing the civil registrar who had never had a similar case.
Some time ago one of these friends left for heaven, reconciled with God who had been presented to him as a child as a Good Father but who he had blamed for allowing his life to be studded with abandonment and failure.
Looking at our role as animators, it seems to us that the spirituality born of Chiara’s charism pushes us to put into practice the welcome that helps to melt hearts and gives the love that opens souls, to help everyone discover the Love that is present in their personal story.
(E. and F.)