The Tokyo skyline (Photo: Freemann Zhou/Unplash)

Japan: "No longer luck or misfortune"

Marco has been living away from Italy for eight years. A job with many uncertainties and tight deadlines, which put his health and family balance at risk. Despite feeling 'at home' in his new CL community, something was not right. A testimony from Tokyo

This summer I had the opportunity to attend the International Assembly in La Thuile, and it was like understanding what has been happening to me for the past three years, through the eyes of friends I had known for a long time but who had a different, new and truer flavour. The Covid period was in some ways a blessing for our community in Tokyo, to which I have belonged since 2015, especially for the relationships I have been given with friends. During this time, each of us was forced by circumstances to look inside ourselves in a different, truer and deeper way, asking ourselves what we were really looking for and what we needed. We recognised ourselves as a family, a new family made up of Italians and Japanese, all people who had the same heartfelt question as me, despite coming from a completely different cultural and social context. To be in the midst of people who have the same question as us, having had such different cultural and educational experiences, is already a huge attraction, which disorients.

While these years have increased my self-awareness and faith, they have also been challenging, especially because of job uncertainties. Living abroad and working for an Italian company with tight quarterly financial targets has uncertainties that the pandemic has obviously amplified. I realised that faith, as I imagined it, was just a concept, a thought that was not lived out in everyday life. What we told each other in the School of Community did not then have an application in my real life. I felt divided: on the one hand the self generated by a new encounter, on the other the self that had to make it on its own, like everyone else, relying only on its own strength. I was not experiencing faith. I realised then that Christian faith truly matures only in the face of facts and through them, not apart from them. There is a solid, two-way relationship between faith and experience, they feed off each other, where faith is a starting point but also an ending point, rewriting everything that has gone before. If it is not so, if faith is not lived in experience, then it is just a philosophical concept, which soon tires.

I therefore judged my life by comparing it with my own miserable human scheme and everything was luck or misfortune, a continuous effort to direct events towards my design, but not an opportunity to recognise Christ in my life. It had become tiring, my health was at risk and my family under pressure. I thus arrived in La Thuile with a specific request to Christ, to help me live my life in such a way that everything would be an opportunity to meet Him. No longer luck or misfortune, no longer living hoping that something will not happen because otherwise it will be a tragedy, no longer my pattern, but truly loving reality by affirming what is in front of me, even what is proposed to me by my colleagues or what I had not foreseen. And suddenly I find myself being patient, but at the same time strong and faithful. And I have discovered two good things. The first, that if you ask from the heart, Christ answers you. During every lunch in La Thuile, at every meeting, I met people who spoke to me as if they had known my situation for years, who answered questions I had inside at that moment, who gave me phone numbers of people to call, whom I had never met but who were there for me. This is the gift of the Church, a community of people who recognise the same Destiny and educate us to a new gaze. Not me alone, but me in a community, while today's society tells us that we have to make it alone.

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The second, perhaps the most beautiful, that Christ does not deny Himself to those who make mistakes, but to those who do not recognise Him in everyday life. Only within the Christian experience can one be loved in this way, looked upon with this gaze and freed from our burdens. I may have made mistakes, but Christ took me too, where I was, in my meagreness, with my mistakes. He waited for my 'yes' to create His Church, and my heart now bursts with joy.

Marco, Tokyo, Japan