There is No Recipe
Stuck at home, struggling with work. There is no "figuring it out." But there is a chance to discover what it is to be "new creature."
I am very grateful for the text of School of Community, especially during the circumstances that we are living right now. In fact, it becomes more and more clear to me that Giussani does not intend to offer me a recipe, a simple solution to the difficulties and the challenges of my life, but he believes in my freedom and proposes to me a journey. He does not want me to assume that because I am Christian or a good member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, I have it all figured out.
And in fact, he challenges me when he says that a “new creature means having a new awareness, a capacity for looking at and understanding reality that others cannot have, and a new affection, a capacity for adherence and dedication to reality, to what is other than oneself, one that cannot even be imagined” (Generating Traces, 53).
I have never understood this phrase as I do right now. Last week has been extremely hard for me and not just because of the lockdown. I am experiencing serious difficulties at work. Every day the problems have been getting worse and worse, and I have become more and more disappointed, to the point of feeling exhausted, powerless. I have experienced moments of darkness and despair, and I have really been tempted to give up, to leave my job. The feeling of despair became even worse when I realized that I couldn’t escape, I couldn’t go somewhere else, leave and go far from New York, start new plans. The pandemic forces me to stay here in my apartment.
However, something has been keeping me from giving up, and it is certainly not because of my own strength. I don’t have it anymore. During these days I experienced the grace of a genuine companionship in Christ. Friends encouraged me not to give up, not to despair in the most precious way: they did not give me a recipe, but they helped me to judge the circumstances that I am living.
Thanks to them, I am realizing that I usually judge every circumstance with the standards of the world: I like it, I do not like it, it is too difficult, I don’t want to face it. We often repeat in our circles that “the difficulties are not an objection,” but I do not really live it or believe it. How many times I repeat that I don’t want to face a situation because it is too painful? How many times I avoid a problem because I do not like it?
These friends did not just ask me to stay, to not give up, to hold on, but they stayed with me in front of the darkness. They helped me to look at the difficulties and not to escape--and in doing so I started to realize that I have a strength, a resilience that is not mine but comes from this companionship that reminds me that these circumstances, even the most difficult, do not define who I am because I belong to Christ. I belong to that encounter that changes my life and that makes me a new creature through this companionship.
Now--I have to repeat it again--this does not mean that I have it all figured out. There is not a happy ending for my job-related difficulties. But every day I need to reaffirm this belonging to Jesus Christ through this friendship that, as Giussani says beautifully, is that “human companionship that prolongs the initial Event in time.” Only in this way can I face circumstances. I do not solve them, but every day I know Christ more.