La Thuile, The Day After
"Why?" did people from all over the world travel to Italy for a four-day meeting?
What moved me most about the International Assembly were the airline check-in lines at Malpensa airport, the day after the end of the Assembly.
The memories of the previous days were still very much alive in my head. The beauty of meeting friends, the songs that raised heavy questions and yet lightened life, the testimonies of efforts and joys, and the authoritative words that indicate a path, a judgment, a hope.
The next day, these moments are a living memory, which moves (sometimes stirring some anxiety!). I realized this when, on my way to my flight, I passed by practically each airline check-in. I hardly passed a check-in in which there was not a person I knew, in line, waiting to board himself and his suitcase. Destination: anywhere in the world. I saw a couple of friends who were going to Africa, one was going to Oman, three were going to Australia, one to Japan, and so on and so on. Of course, a number of friends were flying to America. Here too, in the most unexpected places: Gainesville, FL; St. Cloud, MN; Tampa, FL; Denver, CO; Omaha, NE; and then New York, Washington, Chicago, and so on and so forth. Without forgetting, of course, the friends traveling to Canada.
While I see all this I ask myself two things: why? and for what?
Why are all these people there, ready to go, to return to the "usual life" after such intense days?
These words of Fr Giussani came to mind: "I would like you to understand that by the very fact that we have been gathered here, by the very fact that we have participated in certain events, we have seen; however it was done, we have seen.” And, continuing, he says, “… we have not yet crossed the threshold of maturity, not even by a single step, if not in the measure in which we have become existentially aware that the issue of the relationship with God is having been taken hold of historically, in His history, and therefore, the criterion of our vocation as Christians is what happened, not what we feel."
These are people who have seen – recognized – that something has happened in their life.
For what? What is the goal, the task these days have made clear?
The days in La Thuile insistently re-proposed, in a thousand ways, the purpose of our "leaving for" which I find described in these words by Fr. Giussani: "The life of the people of God - and therefore, my life and our life - is for mission." And again: "‘For you are about to cross the Jordan to enter and occupy the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you’. We imagine the person who is about to walk, with his foot raised, a person who is 'about to', ready to depart, like people who are about to cross the threshold. Is this not perhaps the image of true Christian possession?"
This “crossing the threshold” is an impossible task if it were not because “in the land into which God is calling you…is the experience of the fact that everything is Grace, that it is an Other who acts, it is an Other who produces, it is life as Grace. It is the experience of the fact that everything is Grace, almost glimpsing the hands of an Other that are doing things, that are placing us where we have to be, and causing us to go where we have to go.”
Olivetta, Bronxville, NY
(All quotations are from “The Covenant” by Fr. Giussani)