A presence that fills the void

"A father embracing our fears"

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Luca Innocenti

Pietro Milanesi

Giovanni Provesi

Ester Corna

“We found ourselves lost and afraid.” Who would have thought that in the blink of an eye we would have found ourselves locked into our homes because of an unknown virus that has no cure yet? How can we face such unexpected events?

Since the very start these unusual weeks have appeared to be an obstacle to our routines and very tight schedules. We have had tough days since we couldn’t live or follow our passions, we found ourselves with a lot of free time and very little options. In the attempt to find an answer to this tragic event , the position which appealed the most to us was  Pope Francis position during the Urbi et Orbi benediction of the 27th of March.

“In this world, which You love more than we do, we have kept on going thinking we were strong and capable of everything. By being greedy we let ourselves get carried away by things, we let ourselves get deafened by the rush in our lives. We did not stop after your warnings, wars and injustices regarding the planet were not enough to reawake us, we didn’t listen to the calling of the poor and the crying of our sick world.”

We felt called out: maybe we were going too fast, suffocating our days with things to do, without giving room to what was going on around us. 

A question then arises: how do I use my time during these days? We sometimes live casually, studying and spending time with the family without paying any particular attention. It’s a very persistent difficulty, as we go to bed thinking about our day it seems we wasted time feeling less and less happy over time. We asked ourselves if and how can we get astonished in such a strange and unusual time given the totally unpredicted circumstances. 

During these boring days spent in our bedrooms, a thought digs into our minds: do we really just want to ‘survive’, holding our breaths with our heads buried in the sand, waiting for this problem to pass? 

Again, it is Pope Francis words that challenge us on how to act: “Let Him remind us to see this challenging time as a time of choices. It is not time for your judgment, but of our judgment, it’s the time to choose what counts and what passes on, it’s the time to separate what is necessary from what isn’t. “

We were surprised by the Pope’s answer to the question on how to live these days without wasting them, which is reported in the interview released by Reppublica on March 18th: “We must rediscover the tangibility of little things […] like a homemade meal or a caress, a hug or even a call…It’s the everyday familiar attentions to details that give sense to our lives.”

We are not talking about super heroic endeavors, we are talking about little ordinary things: that’s all these days can offer so that we can learn again to look around us and within us, without getting lost in our confusion. We realize this could be the right time to verify this and to leave room for something else rather than our thoughts. 

It was very clear for one of us, Giovanni, who spent days giving out face masks to the elderly on their door steps after a friend invited him to do so: “Despite the fact that at the start it was only  a way to get of the house, I soon realized that the chance given to me was much greater than that. I had the opportunity to feel like ordinary people, who feel accomplished in their little everyday life. It was a way to go around and to spend time with my best friends and that same time with us being together felt like it had a meaning!”

It is throughout these examples that we realized in person how little attentions have shown to be important. On this aspect, the Pope also had his say: “Our lives are woven and supported by ordinary people, who are usually forgotten, who don’t appear in the newspapers, in magazines or on big shows. Yet without any doubt they are writing history in this very moment,  doctors, nurses and supermarkets employees, cleaners, minders, transport workers, law enforcement authorities, volunteers, priests, nuns and many others who understood that we cannot save ourselves on our own.”

The Pope statement is astonishing to us, it is a clear evidence for everyone which brings out the core of faith: we cannot save ourselves on our own. “<<Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? >> Faith begins with being aware of our need for salvation. We are not self-reliant, we sink if left on our own.

These words encouraged us to see these days has a privileged opportunity to ascertain our way of living throughout our weeks, to grow some relationships and to cut out what is superfluous . 

We are therefore given a new way to face these days, the struggle remains yet we are confident there are people by our side we can count on as well as people being trustworthy anchors we can look up to. They help us to start anew, living ordinary things with integrity.

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