Dear Father Carrón:
Straightening up my desk drawer, I found the notes of what you told me before I departed for Africa. Six years have gone by already. My experience here has not been a walk in the park; yet, by accepting your challenge, today I find myself changed and, most of all, I am able to face reality and my fears in a totally new way. I understand that true change coincides with being authentically myself. I almost feel grateful for all the trials I went through and that brought me to a totally different level of awareness of myself and of reality. There was a time when I had serious problems at work, so much so that I viewed myself as a failure. I was exhausted. I would have liked to be able to say that I was alone, but I wasn’t. I would have liked to say that I was desperate, but that wasn’t true either. I blamed my circumstances and I insisted on being right and, in doing so, I kept sinking lower and lower, with my heart hardened by complaints. I was at my wit’s end. I had painted myself into a corner, with no space left to play games or to keep complaining. I needed to make a decision. I heard you repeat your challenge, urging us to stay in front of reality; I liked it and agreed with your suggestion but, deep down, I wasn’t following it. I needed to decide whether I belonged to my complaints or to Christ. In the end, I surrendered to One who was present and who was waiting for me. I realized that Christ had such respect for my freedom that He couldn’t fill my heart and change my life if I didn’t open the door for Him, with my “yes.” As soon as I made space for Him, my life reached a new depth, which could be perceived by the people around me. It was like opening windows; I discovered that I could walk with my own legs, and that I wasn’t bound to somebody else’s doings anymore. I discovered a new gusto for life, and an otherworldly capacity to love. Within Christ’s embrace, which gives me incredible strength, I have been able to see all my weaknesses clearly. I have seen the incumbent risk to busying ourselves doing things for Christ–in good faith–only to discover that we have lost ourselves because we never had time for Him. I serve as an usher for the Movement, and every time I prepare the room for School of Community and arrange the chairs, I tell myself that Jesus will sit there. When we meet, I am always moved by the way my friends compare their lives to the texts we work on. How can I not be moved by Cyprian, when he tells us that, in order to attend School of Community, he travels 200 miles from Nairobi just to “breathe”? Every time I look at my friends, I wonder why I am here. I am here with them because, just like me, they want to get to know Christ better, and to grow in the certainty of His friendship. I think about how hesitant I am, for example, when we go to sell Traces in front of St. Francis, and about how I am always surprised at the way people look forward to it. Christ is something else; He is a constant surprise, and this makes our journey a simple one. Rose always tells me: “If it’s all about doing things, one gets tired; we need to be moved!” When I get up in the morning and I think about all the things I have to do, I tell myself: “I will never be able to make it!” It is then that I understand that my need is completely spelled out in the first line of Morning Prayer–“Oh Lord, come to my aid” is not a rhetorical expression.
Dear Father Carrón: