GS students in Brazil on Zoom

Brazil: If our heart is not in quarantine

A cultural evening promoted by a group of GS students via Zoom. An evening not of entertainment, but of provocation and for the “bombardment of desire".
Giovanna Ottoni

Our experience with the GS group during this pandemic began in the face of the impact with a strange and apparent (apparent!) "limit". Coronavirus, as pointed out by Fr. Carrón, has shattered our plans and called us " to respond abruptly". The first gesture that was cancelled was our Beginning of the Year Day. Faced with this unexpected pain, it was proposed that the gesture still take place in an online format.
After the Day, Schools of Community were held weekly, involving more and more cities. Along this path, we lived the experience of a live stream on Instagram that provoked messages on social media asking us to organize other meetings like this one among young people. Since the Instagram page is managed by the young people themselves, one of them began writing to me, recording audios, insisting we do another live meeting. Then, without giving up, he spoke of his desire to have a meeting on Zoom with songs, because that is a specific experience of our charisma.

I could not help but have this friend in front of my eyes, and the “bombardment” of desire and ideas with which he came to me. One day, we thought about organizing an evening with poetry and music, open to friends from all over Brazil. For me, in short, the surprise is that those were days in which there was talk about the suffering for the country’s situation, confusion in politics, our helplessness. But I realized that all that was needed was a heart that was awake, a heart that was not in quarantine, to mobilize and build an original story. In front of this unique heart, other hearts - like mine - joined the proposal with joy and enthusiasm.

Looking at what happened during that evening, I said to myself: it's true! Carrón’s words in Reawakening Our Humanity describe it perfectly: "At times, because of the toils of life or our laziness, the trajectory of our gaze is lowered, remaining at the level of appearances, at the surface of things. We think we are exhausting everything offered by the world as we breathe the air of these small realms we share, as we look through the keyhole of our rationalistic measure: a measure that is cramped, narrow, and, in the end, suffocating (it is that suffocation that tips us off to the fact that we are stuck in appearances).”

After the evening, which took place on Saturday, June 20, many friends wrote to us talking about how they were “breathing again”, of a "full" experience which before was full of anguish or tiredness of reality, of a "being surprised", of a new way of living the relationship with family members who participated together, and many other moving stories of the experience we shared together, from many different places in Brazil. If everything conspires to block our gaze upon this appearance, upon the surface, the evening was a dive into the deep waters of our being, of our humanity: "Of our belonging", as a friend wrote to me shortly afterwards thanking me.

It is impossible not to want to live up to questions, such as the one that Carrón proposes to us: "Are we surprising ourselves with how free we are?” This challenge is clear in these times: "Someone wrote that we will come out of this great pandemic changed. I would add: we will come out changed, but only if we start to change now. That is, only if we are aware of what is happening, if we are present to the present and learn now to judge what we are living, whether confined to our homes or in action on the front lines facing the disease. The change does not come about simply through an accumulation of shocking events and our impressions of these events; it happens when we understand the meaning of what happens to us, in other words, when we acquire knowledge. So, the change in us is not automatic. We will come out of this situation changed if we go deeper right now, using the provocations reality sends us, in order to discover who we are and what makes life worth living, what protects us from being crushed.”

The invitation for the online event

And only we can decide to do this work. It is a beautiful work of conscience, as Jean from Belo Horizonte and Duda from Brasilia testify, who contributed to the organization of the meeting:

"Faced with the experience of freedom that I am experiencing during quarantine, I keep asking myself how I can allow other people to experience this freedom as well, because they were visibly determined by the frustration that this time had brought us, and experiencing freedom by not being able to leave the house seemed crazy. Then, when the evening was proposed, I found the opportunity to show these people another perspective. But not with a theory. Through life experience, through the experiences of friends. And I think that is exactly what happened. The evening was not another moment of leisure that we often experience, where people forget their problems for a while, forget about the quarantine, and feel momentarily better. The evening was an Event. An Event that helps us to look at problems, the quarantine, in a deeper way. It does not stop upon the surface. An Event that woke us up the next day in a different way. The house was the same, the quarantine continued, the problems were the same, but our I was no longer the same." Duda, Brasilia

"It all started at the beginning of social distancing, when we were told that we were going to have our Beginning of the Year Day on Zoom. We then began doing School of Community with friends from all over the country using the same platform and then through a live stream on Instagram. This all gave me a lot of relief, because even being isolated at home, physically far away, with online classes, with a new routine, whoever wanted to found time to dedicate themselves to the things that were being offered.

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One day, I read the testimony of an Italian girl whose mother had been hospitalized in a serious condition, but she met the Italian GS students, and through two Sunday meetings of songs on Zoom she was able to restore meaning to everything that was happening. I then saw a similar experience with friends from Argentina, who also met online, to virtually meet to sing around the fire. So I thought: why not propose it to my friends from GS? We are living so many beautiful things during this time and, above all, we have many artists among us, and singing and art are something that has always united us. So I proposed it to Giovanna, one of our guides and my friend. At first, she asked a lot of questions, but then she accepted the proposal and invited "key" people to organize the gesture. During a School of Community, Fabíola, a teacher from Manaus, said the following sentence: "Our heart is not in quarantine.” The same day, Ana Maria, from Brasilia, painted a beautiful painting with this phrase upon it. We used this as inspiration for our evening, which took place on June 20, and it was a surprise! About 120 people connected via Zoom, and 30 had signed up to sing. It was a beautiful and memorable evening. I already had high expectations, and my expectations were totally exceeded.

But even so, after the evening, I really missed my friends, and I thought: "But if so-and-so had been there with us, they would have loved it...," or even: "The fact that he did not connect was a great lack of consideration.” Those thoughts were the Lord who said to me very precisely: "Jean, take a good look at everything I did, is it not enough for you? See how many hearts were awake, is that not enough?" After that, I remembered that none of this happened thanks to my strength, or because it was me who wanted it, but Him."

Jean, Belo Horizonte