Twenty-seven pairs of eyes and zero risk

The desire to start school again. The speech ready for the first day. Then the gruelling discussions about security protocols: "Would it not be safer to stay at home?" But the gazes of the students over their masks...

A few weeks ago, before starting school and exams at university, I tried to think about my return to work. I knew it would be nice, after so many months, to see my colleagues again. But the most important expectation I had was that of the boys, the most beautiful aspect of this wonderful job. I said to myself: what do I tell them now? I cannot begin as if nothing has happened.So I tried to take stock of what the lockdown taught me. I said to myself: you have learned three things - that we are not omnipotent and that our health is precarious; that no one can do it alone, each of us, for better or for worse, is linked to the other (which can be a resource or a danger); but, above all, that what saves me from nothingness, from nihilism, from fear, from anxiety is Jesus Christ. As a good little “ciellino” who has completed his task I said to myself: "There, you can start like this. It will certainly go well."

Then came the beginning of September at school without the students. Days spent discussing and voting on security protocols, establishing procedures for their entrance in the morning, for recess, for their exit at the end of the day. Never, as I did in these days, have I felt the threat of Covid so looming, as a real presence. The fundamental objective of so much talking and discussing was to ensure a zero risk: masks, gels, distancing, protocols for the various situations.

All the nice reflections I had prepared in those days were put aside and were replaced by anxiety about responsibility, concern about the respect of procedures and cowardly thinking: to have zero risk was it not better to stay at home? Then on day 14, during the second period, I had the fifth grade, a class I have known for two years. I entered ready with my slides about the anti-Covid protocol, ready for my lesson in responsibility. And I was defeated.

Twenty-seven pairs of eyes looked at me over masks at a perfect distance of one-meter. Those eyes scrutinized me. I read in them uncertainty, curiosity, and a profound need that has nothing to do with the sacrosanct and necessary regulations of the anti-Covid protocol.The need in those extraordinary eyes, the desire they revealed, immediately brought me back to my need, that of being reached by Christ through hands, eyes, mouth, concrete flesh. The only answer to that need is a new life filled by Christ, where zero risk does not exist, where risk becomes a challenge for freedom in the face of reality. Those eyes that are so dear to me told me that I want this new life for myself, and I want it for my high school and university students.

Read also - Achilles' desire

In the evening, while I was praying, I asked the Lord that I might encounter and recognize carnal presences that speak to me about Him. That those eyes that I saw at school might encounter carnal presences that speak to them about Him. And finally, I asked that, somehow and even for a short while, my hands and my mouth might become that carnal presence for them.

Giovanni, Verona, Italy