The Grigna (Photo: Unsplash/Asoggetti)

"Never alone, in every corner of life”

Green passes, masks and "bubbles" that do not halt the great desire to spend a few days with GS kids. And thirty years of vacations do not diminish a teacher's surprise at a mom's question: "Who are you people?"

My first GS vacation as a teacher was in the summer of '88, in San Martino di Castrozza. Hikes, games, wonderful encounters. Since then, there had been an unbroken string of such moments. Then Covid hit last year. Of course, it did not stop us from getting together, which assumed a new form, but the vacations... In April, a window opened up and we made an attempt: a nearby place, small enough to comply with the Covid regulations. We heard back from the Preziosine Sisters of Pasturo in the province of Lecco and they were available: 40 safe beds, full board. "Come on, let us make the proposal to the kids." They were all in.

We had to split into three groups (Giussano and Carate, Desio and Seregno, Monza) to allow everyone to come. For the first time in thirty years of vacations, we met the parents. The situation was extraordinary and we wanted to share with them the responsibility of the proposal we were making. Three meetings, one for each group (both in person and on zoom), to explain the "anti-Covid" measures we had thought of for the vacation: green passes, masks and social-distancing in enclosed spaces, single rooms, breakfast-lunch-dinner with the same people (in the so-called "bubbles"). While we were explaining the technical issues, we realized that the proposal and the challenge emerged powerfully: to verify that there are no conditions that can stop our desire for life. "In spite of everything, we hunger for meaning in life," said the invitation to the vacation, which stood out on top of an image of Rothko's 1969 painting Untitled; indeed, within those very conditions that the emergency imposed on us, we could have discovered the beauty of the nature of our companionship.

Everything was fine, just a few questions were asked for clarification and... "Excuse me,” said the mother of a first-grader. "It is the first time I have come here, that I have seen you and listened to you, but who are you people?” After thirty years of vacations, suddenly the question was not taken for granted: who are you? "Friends who are in love with life because they have met the One who continually gives us life in its beauty. And we want to discover this always, and together," we answered almost in chorus.

And off we went. Hikes, games, beautiful encounters and lots of singing together ("Come and praise for love sing...", we only sing for love).

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"We could not have wished for anything better than this: a beautiful place, the nuns made themselves completely available, wonderful friends to share the task with, kids full of joy and wonder, and us with them!" This was the WhatsApp message of a teacher-friend at the end of the vacation. "How nice would it be if our children also had adults who spend time with them like this," the kitchen ladies said to each other during a break. Sure, it is a nice compliment... But we do not "spend time with them" by way of assignment: it is the surprise and the yearning for the same desire we feel and for One who, present among us, takes us and accompanies us in every corner of life.

"I seek something, something for life, that it may never become rusty. Tralerulerula," we sang. And, having found it, we continue to look for it.

Stefano, Seregno, Italy