Liverpool city center (via Wikimedia Commons)

UK: “To make my heart beg for Him, always”

Loredana shares her experience of the Beginning of the Year Day, of a new job and the re-discovery of the significance of School of Community. “I don’t need to do anything more than simply embrace our daily bread, this reality, my life.”

This year, a Spanish friend, from Liverpool, wanted to give me a present for my birthday. She, her husband and their 3 children wanted to have my children, Ricky and Gio, round for dinner so that my husband, Lindo, and I could go out to celebrate my birthday. I was really moved and surprised by this kind of present as I didn’t expect it. My birthday was on a Saturday and on Friday there was the first School of Community of this new year. I really wanted to go to School of Community because I usually stay at home with the children and my husband goes. After School of Community, we went to our friends’ to collect the boys. I don’t know why (maybe because I was particularly happy after that particular SOC) but even if it was pretty late on a Friday evening, and you usually just want to “switch off” and think about how to enjoy the weekend, our friends said "sit down now and tell us about the School of Community". They know about the Movement, they have some relatives in Spain that belong to the Movement and who send them books, in Spanish, about Fr. Giussani, Piccinini, or Nembrini. We belong to the same parish and we share our daily life and our desire to grow in faith. Sometimes, they seem to belong to the movement more than I do.

That evening, I rediscovered, again, the impact that the School of Community has upon my life. I rediscovered my desire for it, because of the experience and the place that School of Community represents. During that School of Community, I was particularly grateful and happy to share another important fact. After 7 years, I have started a new job as teaching assistant in a primary school where I work with autistic children. My children, Ricky and Giovanni, had been diagnosed as autistic. When this happened, I couldn’t even imagine that something positive could happen from such a deep and painful wound.

During these years, a lot of great things, gifts, have been given to us.  Last year, I attended a college course to become a teaching assistant, with the idea that, in the future, home-schooling could be a possibility for us. I began a placement in a school, as a volunteer, and, eventually, I was offered a job. In July, my supervisor said " You see things that we don't see". And it's not because I had visions, but because I couldn't avoid looking at those children in the same way that I was taught to look at mine. I really didn't do anything particularly clever or smart. I just enjoyed doing what I was doing and the children were amazing.

When I started the job, in September, I really felt its pressures and responsibilities. I expected too much from myself, as if I had to prove that I really was the right person for that job. After the first week, I was done, I felt completely squashed and flattened by a feeling of inadequacy, of incompetence, my incompetence. I was lost because, instead of looking at the children, I was looking at myself and I wasn't enjoying what I was doing. On that occasion, again, a friend of mine pulled me back on track. She told me that the children I work with feel this same sense of inadequacy when I expect them to do something and they can’t do it, or when I look at them, not as a gift, but as what I have in mind. What my friend told me has changed the way I do my job and the way I am with the children and with my colleagues. Most importantly, I am now free. I am enjoying my job one hundred times more and every day is a surprise. 

The Beginning of the Year Day always has an impact on me. Every year I wait for it, I long for a new beginning, for a new starting point from which to judge my experience and from which to live reality. And, every time, my expectations are never disappointed. Last year, two friends from Milan came to visit us in Liverpool and they stayed with our children so that we could both go to the Beginning of the Year Day. It was amazing for me. This year, I got the text of the meeting from Milan a few days later and I could read it at home. I read it but I also went to London because I really needed to see my friends, their faces, even just for 10 minutes. When I was there, everything, again, was more than I could have expected. Not only my friends in London and to see what the Lord is doing in their lives, but also the possibility to hear Fr. Giussani and what Fr. Luca told us during the homily. He said to us that the prayer of the Our Father has everything that we need. When we say "give us our daily bread", we are asking for reality, our daily life, where we can meet and recognised Christ and everything He does.

Again, this essential reminder has changed my outlook: I already have everything and I don’t need to do anything more than simply embrace our daily bread, this reality, my life. It isn't always easy because we all have our wounds and our dramatic circumstances, but I have never been alone. He is always there, waiting for me and happening for me. And the urgent need to answer the question: Who is the authority for me?, Who is that presence, in my life, where Christ wins? I can say that, now, my son Ricky is the authority for me. His presence forces me, in a good way, to go deeper into my relationship with Christ and to ask Him everything. Who are You to love me, my children and my husband in this unique and absolute way? Who are You that makes me able to love myself, my life and everything, in this way? The way that Christ makes me, Ricky, Lindo, Giovanni, everyone and everything is liberating. I don't need to fix or change anyone or anything. I just need to embrace because everything is given for a reason, to make my heart beg for Him, always.

Loredana, Liverpool, UK