Seeing Him Happening
At first she resists the restrictions required by the pandemic. But then Elisa recognizes a presence that calls her "out of nothingness."
Before COVID-19 took hold, I was living my life as if my job were everything, experiencing anxiety that surrounded me on all sides. I was not in a relationship with the Lord of all reality, but living as if I were at the center, as if I were the manipulator of reality. In the middle of my nothingness, I had many questions: What can help me, even at work, to live up to my true desire? What does it mean that the companionship is in the “I”? What can help me to be aware that everything is given and that I depend? How does familiarity with Christ grow?"
The COVID outbreak was a sudden jolt that has taken me out of the vortex and the distraction and made me ask, What am I living for?
I would never have imagined that I could live this situation with gratitude (especially since my grandfather is in all alone in the hospital with COVID). But now, I am approaching experience from two fundamental positions:
1) Depending corresponds more to me. Either I live suspended from God or I am the master of things, the protagonist, the measure of reality around me. In these days, the fact that I am dependent is the truth of reality which is becoming transparent.
2) What tears us out of nothingness is a presence that reveals itself through authority (as defined by Father Giussani in the Beginning Day text).
On the first point:
At the beginning of March, I was planning to return to the US from Italy, where I was for my sister's wedding. I wanted to go back, even though the first travel restrictions had been announced, mainly to see my California friends again. After talking to the head of my House, I realized that the reason was not adequate. She invited me to re-read the government ordinance in detail. The Mystery's call passes through the circumstances, she said. In theory I could have returned to the U.S. for job-related reasons, but only if it were urgent. I could have come back saying that my reasons were urgent, but the only way to obey God was to obey all the details of reality. Was it urgent for me to go back? Not really...
At that moment, my sister and her husband came to mind. They were married a few days before, and had to cut their guest list from 300 to 30 because of COVID-related restrictions, betting on the fact that the circumstances were for them. If they had gotten out of the Lombardy region, the only region with restrictions at the time (as I had suggested they should), they could have had a great party. But for them this was not the priority. They wanted to live what had been prepared for them, just as it was prepared, embracing it as the preferential way Jesus wanted to reach them. I wanted to follow them, for their position had been correspondent.
This saying “yes” and living suspended from God dictated my attitude in the following days. I began to depend on the signs of the Mystery, responding to the circumstances even in smaller things, like washing my hands, cooking when my mom was tired, helping my little sister with school, not leaving the house if not necessary. This was my contribution, my way of saying "Here I am!"—my answer.
In my job I had been asked to contribute by helping a hospital plan its capacity of beds in the next few months (for both COVID and non-COVID departments), but the “yes” I said to this job was not greater or more meaningful than the “yes” that I was saying before ordinary things. My self-awareness was the same: I did it as an answer. Being in a dialogue with the Mystery corresponds to me even more than the apparent usefulness of anything I have to do.
About the second point:
At work I was thinking about how to sell consulting projects to companies that may need them, when I got a phone call from a partner based in Silicon Valley who told me that he and the founder wanted to ask me, since I was based in Italy, to manage a pro-bono consulting project (they were paying me, but were not being paid by the client). This was a new thing: they wanted to help the Italian situation, serving for free.
What brings me out of my nothingness is seeing Him happening, His faithfulness; seeing my sister's wedding and how correspondent it was for them to say “yes” even when they didn’t want to; seeing my boss who freely offers what he has for the world. I am seeing “authorities” as Giussani defined them. Thanks to them, I can see what my heart really wants, a different measure that I desire for my life that is making me stay in Italy because this is my vocation today, that is making me offer my job, that makes me want to depend. This corresponds to me much more than following my own plans because I am in a dialogue instead of being alone.
I am infinitely grateful for the tools the Movement gives us so that we are not wasting this time. I hope that I can keep living like this even after everything ends.
Elisa, Milan, Italy