The Scottish community

Scotland: “Wherever you look there’s something to be seen”

Marta shares her experience of small, daily treasures, at home and at work, that reveal a preference for her life. A beauty is always seen if we are open to it.

I have a clear image in my head of my first week in the UK, seven years ago; it is of me crying from nostalgia, on a typical stormy, February afternoon. We had just moved to a lovely seaside village in the North of England and I had just left behind my country, friends, relatives and a much-loved job. Yet, since the very beginning of my new adventure, I have always had the experience that these moments of apparent suffering are crucial for my journey in adult life, close to my husband, children and friends. For instance, in those years spent in England, I found myself being grateful for the 70 mile drive we did every Friday in order to go to School of Community, with 3 kids and a new-born baby. That journey physically helped me to recognise the value of the most important encounter I have ever made in my life, the encounter with the Church.

Three and a half years ago, we moved again, to Hamilton, in the West of Scotland. Again, in our Scottish life, I have constantly seen beauty in things that are small, imperceptible and which are discreetly shaping our life. The only attitude requested from me is to face reality with the same nostalgia and awareness that I have experienced so far. I will give three recent examples.

The first is from my family life which, for me, is my absolute priority. As usual, we couldn’t go to the Rimini Meeting as, in Scotland, the school year starts in the middle of August. And yet, we discovered that by responding to what was asked from us we did not miss anything from not going to the Meeting. This was not only because we managed to watch, on demand, as many meetings as we could, but, above all, because we saw that the same experience of fullness was possible for us here. This was revealed to us by our young au pair, who stayed with us for a month this summer. In her thank you card she wrote, “by being with your family and friends I discovered, as you said many times, that ‘wherever you look there’s something to be seen’, and I thank you because, here, I saw so many beautiful things. I thank you for how you embrace me, allowing me to be part of your life and friendship, letting me participate in things that struck you and showing me many beautiful things.” In the letter, she used the very quotation from the Talmud that I had heard in a talk from the Meeting, which I had followed on Youtube: I was simply living these words, and someone else had recognised it.

Other examples are from my job. At the moment, I have a part-time job where I work in a nursery, cooking for young children, toddlers and babies, some of them only four months old. I try my best to turn ordinary lunches and breaks into special and enjoyable moments for the kids. Two weeks ago, the nursery’s manager asked me why I was presenting the dishes so nicely, and why didn’t I find it a waste of time, given that they are only hungry kids. I replied that a nice meal is more appealing and it is more likely that the children will happily polish off their plates, but also that, in my life, I have experienced how beauty is always desirable and true for everyone, no matter what age or context. These children deserve a five-star chef and it is my little contribution to their happiness. I am not sure if she understood or definitely agreed with me but, the day after, I was provided with a set of trisection, nicely shaped and colourful plates, that she was very glad to have bought for the nursery.

The following week, the manager noticed my rosary beads lying on the table and she approached me, asking what they were. A colleague replied that it was a rosary. I then explained how to use it and also that I usually say a prayer, each morning, for each member of staff. She seemed quite surprised by this and said that she wasn’t Catholic. After around half an hour, my manager came back, bringing a young teacher with her by the hand. She explained that this teacher is going through a tough time in her life, and she said to me that I should pray for her because she needs a lot of prayers.

All these are signs of a preference for my life, and although they are so tiny, I am very grateful for them; they are a daily offering to my experience, showing me that the reality we live in constantly supports our journey, if we are open to live it.

Marta, Hamilton, Scotland