Lorenzo Berra at the Harvard Faculty Club in Boston

Boston: What I have learnt in life

A friend's prize-giving ceremony at Harvard. At first, in such a prestigious context, Monica feels out of place. Then something changes, and a new thought emerges within her, which makes her see what really matters.

In November, my husband and I were invited to attend a ceremony at the Harvard Faculty Club in Boston, in honor of our friend Lorenzo Berra to celebrate his new chair of Anaesthesia at Harvard. This invitation moved me, and I kept thinking: why us? Why me?

On the day of the ceremony, having reached the top of the club's grand staircase, my husband and I immediately found ourselves face to face with Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston. We started talking and I told him about how I felt a little out of place: I am not part of the medical sphere, nor am I a researcher at Harvard. The Cardinal replied with a smile, as if to say that he felt the same way. "How is it possible that our friend has received such an important title?", I said. A friend of Lorenzo's, who was next to us, replied: "Lorenzo is incredible, and I know why: he is in love with Jesus. Shortly afterwards we were called to take our seats for dinner and the ceremony officially began.

The evening began with a speech by Lorenzo in which he greeted those present and talked about his scientific and human journey. While he was talking about the two important research projects which he is currently engaged in, I couldn't help but take a look at the beautiful room full of decorations and think: "Thank you, Lord. Who am I to be here and see You at work?". Then a former student spoke of how Lorenzo had hired him in his laboratory, sharing his passion for medicine, life, care and faith.

Listening to him, my heart was moved, because I thought of the friends that I have in my life who take care of me, who share this passion for life, who are attentive to details and who love life. And suddenly I didn't feel out of place anymore. It didn't matter that I wasn't a doctor, or that I had never published scientific research. What matters in my life is saying "yes", just as Lorenzo had done to what he was given: reality! People and reality: that's all we need. And of course our heart, the need for truth that Lorenzo felt and discovered in his research. I understood what Fr. Giussani once said to a group of friends who had asked him: "How can we be like you? We want to live like you. How can you be so different from us?” To which he replied, "The only difference between you and me is my yes."

Monica, Boston (MA), USA