A hike during the holiday

So that holidays don’t remain a memory

The walks in the Dolomites, a party in the village square, the news of a friend's death. And a question that weaves through the few days spent together: what does it really mean to undertake a journey?

"It is not enough to be amazed, it is necessary to undertake a journey", we heard ourselves say during the introduction of our School of Community group's holiday in Trentino; a reminder that immediately broke through in us and questioned us. That astonishment is not enough is obvious: how many times have we experienced a sense of freedom, for example in front of the Dolomites or after a day spent with our friends, which dissipated as soon as we returned to the path with our backs to the peaks. So what can we do to prevent the days spent together from ending up as just a beautiful memory? What does it really mean to undertake a journey?

About halfway through the holiday we organised a village festival in the town where we were staying: a lunch, thanks to the collaboration of a local pizzeria; an afternoon of games and songs on a stage set up in the square followed by the presentation of The Religious Sense. While speaking during the meeting on Fr. Giussani’s book, the Archbishop of Trento, Monsignor Lauro Tisi, said at one point: “The person first prays and then believes; the human being first recognises that they are a question, then they decide to follow every shred of answer that they intercept.” Hearing this sentence, we sensed that our being there on holiday and the desire to prepare for the party stemmed from wanting to find an answer to our need.

On the evening of that day, news arrived: the son of a family in the movement in movement had taken his own life. In the face of such a tragic and mysterious event, it is clear that astonishment is not enough: no one could limit themselves to saying: “I am astonished at what has happened to this boy,” that would be inhumanity. All the thirst for life, the need to answer the question "what is the meaning of what is happening?" in the face of such facts make us recognise that what we all seek is really something else, an Other totally elusive to us but whom we can know and follow: Christ.

The evenings and games that took place on holiday were largely inspired by the figure of Takashi Paolo Nagai, the Japanese doctor who survived the atomic devastation and whose life changed after meeting his wife Midori, who belonged to a Christian family. In the preface to the book Ciò che non muore mai [What never dies], Nagai's autobiography, Fr. Mauro-Giuseppe Lepori says: “The attentive and intent man discovers more and more that the Mystery is the Weaver of his life. He discovers that the consciousness of life is true self-knowledge, the right consciousness of the self that, in the unravelling of its existence, discovers itself to be increasingly ‘woven’ by an Other, by a mysterious weaver who manages to continue his work and bring it to completion even when the threads break, are cut by external forces or burnt by an enemy that always seems to be at work to thwart the weaving of an existence willed by the Mystery.”

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Deciding to help prepare for the holiday, proposing to walk in silence during the hikes, and then again the village party, the games, the evenings: everything stemmed solely from wanting to get to know this Other. This is not only the origin of gratitude, but also the working hypothesis that, starting from those days, still remains today, a month after the holiday: having discovered even more how much our life is really in the hands of an Other whom we can meet and follow. The wish that Giussani made to those who were beginning the work of School of Community on The Religious Sense comes to mind: "I had said (...) that one thing I allowed myself to wish would happen at the end of this work: that we would have perceived, at least a little, that everything and all of us depends on something greater than ourselves; greater not in the sense of more voluminous than our imagination but still of the same nature as what we can imagine, but in the sense of other, 'totally other'". Someone so great that he allows us to look at everything, to judge and to continue to follow him.

Alberto and Francesca, Milan