Christ Keeps Happening
In front of 2020's disturbing realities--the pandemic and the elections--Desa discovers that there is need of only one thing. And a new freedom emerges.
Reflecting on my experience over the past months, between the pandemic and the elections season, I realized a few important things. First, we have been deprived of the possibility to express our life as we were used to, and yet Christ keeps happening. I must give in to the evidence that He is happening. As much as I miss our gestures, the gatherings of friends, the initiatives we could take, I have to admit that He has not abandoned us and keeps making Himself present to me: in my friends of the School of Community, some of which joined us during the pandemic, in all the beautiful witnesses I read in Traces and in the CL newsletter, in the people of my house. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for it all.
I have felt the words Jesus spoke to Martha as if they were addressed to me: Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing (Lk 10:41). When I realized this, the anxiety of 'fixing' the situation, of finding ways not to be affected by all the restrictions and to weather the storm waiting for better times to come went away and a profound freedom emerged: freedom to take risks and go see people, freedom to stay home and renounce certain things, freedom to respect the freedom of others. It's a different life, because it doesn't lean on the doubt that I have been cheated by 2020 and that this year could have been different, but on the wonder of His presence that keeps happening before my eyes.
The second thing I have witnessed regards the elections. I am not a US citizen yet, therefore I cannot vote. Still, I could not help trying to understand what was at stake and what was the best choice for this country that I have come to love deeply. I have read extensively, watched the debates, and discussed with friends and colleagues. I became passionate about the racial history of this country, the criminal justice system, the idea of government and society behind the response to the COVID pandemic. I have changed ideas many times, going back and forth between personal interests and a general view of politics and freedom, social and moral issues.
I eventually made up my mind about the vote I would have cast, but the process of engaging with the issues made me see something much more valuable than a decision that is as debatable as any other, especially in the current political climate. Both within and without the Movement and the Church, the contribution that we can bring to the world is the certainty that we are not defined by any ideology, that we can discuss passionately, argue even, and what comes to the fore is how interesting reality is rather than our ideological differences.
I had a very heated argument about Trump with a colleague of mine after which she texted me: "Thank you, because you are one of the few people with whom I can discuss these things freely, and you always make me think." The same goes for me. Reality is unsettling, much less comfortable than ideologies, and many times I am forced to repeat what in 2020 has become a refrain: "I don't know." Yet, engagement with reality opens me up, helps me broach questions, and allows me to encounter rather than exclude the people around me. Even more, I discover the One Who has entered into my life and turned it into an adventure.
At the beginning of his last encyclical letter, Pope Francis recalls Saint Francis' journey to meet the Saladin and uses the words of Leclerq to describe that gesture: "Only the man who approaches others, not to draw them into his own life, but to help them become ever more fully themselves, can truly be called a father" (Fratelli Tutti, 4). I have seen this happen in our engagement with the elections, and I believe this is the gift the charism of Father Giussani is for me and for the world.
Desa, Gainesville, Florida