Lunch together for the Japanese CL community

Japan: What does it have to do with the stars?

A small group of friends from Hiroshima and Tokyo, who live at a distance for most of the year, spent a few days together in the mountains to deepen their friendship. The Japanese community's first vacation.

Eleven friends from Tokyo and five from Hiroshima gathered for a three-day vacation in Tsuwano and Yamaguchi in southern Japan. We did not know what the program was and so did not know what would happen. That is why I was very curious! “Beautiful mountains beginning to bloom”: that is how the Japanese heart expresses spring. On the way, the car moved as if sucked in by the fresh greenery. We entered Tsuwano and it felt as if God himself was giving us his “welcome.” What was about to begin?

Happy to see each other again after a year, we all gathered at the Virgin's Pass, near Tsuwano, where so many “hidden Christians” were imprisoned and tortured in the 19th century, and where we attended mass for the 37 martyrs who lost their lives there during the Samurai Inquisition, together with thousands of pilgrims. A natural shrine, completely surrounded by greenery. It is so beautiful that it was hard to imagine that brutal torture had taken place there. But isn’t such beauty a sign of the Grace that transforms evil into good?

On a hike

After Mass and lunch, we spent time together following whoever was leading us. During the year we normally do School of Community remotely, so, although I live in Hiroshima, I only knew the friends in Tokyo from their interventions. I wanted to take the opportunity to talk to each of them as much as possible. They were very different “in person”! When you have direct contact, you feel a person’s warmth, their expressions, their breathing. And for the first time I realized that I had preconceptions about them generated by distance. I felt a certain discomfort because they seemed inaccessible to me, and that did not allow me to grasp their humanity. Instead, their companionship was exactly “the person” as God had created them. The change from surprise to love for these people, which melted my heart, was very pleasant.

On the second day, we had a time of sharing. The theme was, “What does it have to do with the stars?” That is, what is the connection between this theme and what you are experiencing now? I had no idea what that meant, so I asked, “What do you mean by stars? I am sorry, but I have no idea what is being asked.” Gabriel, then, asked me another question, “What struck you today?” I answered immediately: as we were coming down the mountain on the chairlift, I saw the roofs of the houses that looked tiny and I thought that in these beautiful, microscopic houses there were people, each person with their own life. And that God was in relationship with each of them and loved them. Gabriel told me, “Those are the stars. You have eyes not only for yourself, but also for others.”

Read also - "Love given for the sake of love"

I returned home with a desire to understand those words better. Then, in Hiroshima, I received a text recounting an episode from Fr. Giussani's life entitled “What does this have to do with the stars?” from a book about his life. Soon after, those of us in the Hiroshima community had a meeting with Fr. Ambrogio Pisoni who visited from Milan after a year. The theme of the meeting was precisely, “What does it have to do with the stars?” I heard that “the triviality of the instant has to do with the universe (God).” That is, morality consists of making a gesture in function of the whole, so even drinking a glass of water has meaning if done with the awareness of being relationship with God. But what is man, the self to whom God so ardently turns to show his presence? The difference between God's enormity and my littleness is absurd.... Fr. Ambrogio told us, “To reach beauty and truth, one must be attentive to reality in its totality.” But why? What is the point? To correspond to my heart's desire to “be truly happy.”

Susana Arino Setsuko, Hiroshima, Japan