On a hike

When plans are overturned

Matteo had zero expectations before leaving. And for Marta, only two days sufficed for her gaze to change. An account of four days of vacation together in La Thuile.

Until a couple of years ago, we had perhaps taken it for granted; going on vacation together was the norm every summer. It was an expected occasion, often surprising, full of amazing encounters and great beauty. But it was still something "usual", like a wonderful tradition that is renewed each year. This year, however, the vacation was anything but expected; even if it was just four days long rather than the usual week, and even though there would be far fewer people given the unusual dates, when many people were still at work, and the short notice given.

The vacation in La Thuile with two hundred friends from Abbiategrasso, Carrara, Padua, Belluno, Feltre, Turin, Cuneo and Savona – hopefully I have not forgotten anyone – was an extraordinary occasion, intense and full of encounters. As Matteo describes: "I had already said no to the vacation: they gave too little notice, too few days, I had work. I arrived with no expectations, asking only for my eyes to be open. And nothing happened as I would have expected. I did things I would not have normally done, I spent time with people I would not normally have, I saw shining eyes that I would not have normally looked at. It was all beautiful. My faith is still fragile. But I thank you because every time I go home a little more human." This same amazement is shared by Marta, despite an unforeseen, negative event: "The vacation was much desired and I really missed it. After two days, our daughter was sick and we had to leave in a hurry. While I was packing, I was really angry and yet I thought: ‘What a gift these two days have been, now evidently He has other plans for us. We will find out what great things lie ahead.’ I paused because that thought surprised me. My plans had been overturned by an unforeseen event, but those 48 hours had instilled within me the certainty that things do not happen by chance, but He guides me and waits for me.”

This is what Daniela said: "In terms of my way of behaving and acting in relationships, I have always been on the sidelines, staying in my comfort zone, always doing what is best for others. Instead, during these days, I realized that I have changed; for the first time in ages, I did what I truly wanted. I opened my eyes and realized that everything I have ever wanted has always been in front of me. I lived the days and relationship in such a full way that my heart is bursting. Not everything is clear, and I do not understand everything, but I do not want to give up this “new” path I have realized I am on.” Gianni, quoting a phrase by Fr. Giussani from forty years ago, says: "Expect a journey, not a miracle that dodges your responsibilities, that eliminates your toil, that makes your freedom mechanical.No! Do not expect this. Now you will have to begin to truly love life and its destiny." He continues: "In what I have seen during these days, in the moving testimonies, in the encounters, I have become aware of the grace that God has given me. I had lost it; I was stuck somewhere between skepticism, which made me perceive my inability to walk towards destiny, and a sort of religious magic. These days, however, I was struck by seeing and being with people who have witnessed their walk towards destiny. I ask this for myself and God says: 'Be with those I have put beside you.'"

Read also – “The Lord takes care of everything”

This is the message Sara sent in response to a text, the day after she returned home: "I had already written to my husband this morning saying that I felt myself sinking again, and that nothing had changed. Shortly afterwards, I got your text. Thank you! Now I have to begin to really love life again, and its destiny. These days of vacation have allowed me to lay the foundations. I felt His tenderness for me again. I was angry at Him for a year; everything in life was sent to get in my way. And today...what a miracle."

One last thing: due to the particular circumstances, there happened to be several groups on vacation at the same hotel. Vincenzo, on vacation in La Thuile with his Fraternity, "by chance" met friends from Abbiategrasso whom he had not seen for some time. On Monday he wrote this message to them: "Dear friends, it was, first of all, a great pleasure to see you and I was moved by Anna's embrace. She embraced me with enormous affection. I am writing to you because we did not see each other before leaving and I wanted to say goodbye. The vacation was an exceptional event for us. During the assembly, people spoke, one after the other, for more than an hour. Everyone was moved and grateful for what they had experienced. We are part of a great story! And to see that the promise does not disappoint is truly heartwarming."

Massimo, Abbiategrasso, Italy