Traces N.6, June 2020

Beginning again on our journey

The name for this time has been chosen: “Phase 2.” That’s fine, although the line between “before” and “after” is not nearly so clear as a date on the calendar, which leaves us still holding our breath. The beginning of this shift following the peak of the pandemic has not been the same for everyone–it has come only for some, while others are still fully immersed in the tragedy, or are just now facing a risk that they will really sink into it (for example Latin America and Africa, where many people are watching with understandable apprehension). Still, Phase 2 has been eagerly anticipated, and the hope summed up in words like “reopening” and “beginning again” is incalculable. But what do we need to truly begin again?

Rules and safety measures, of course.
Responsible behavior that can help extinguish the wildfire of the rapid spread of the virus and avoid sparking it again. Everyone working again, because as we see the curve of infections decline, the trajectory of the economic crisis is at risk of taking off.
The list of good and necessary things to do could go on and on. But there is a precondition that comes before any of this. Fr. Julián Carrón, the leader of CL, summarized it in the title of his e-book which came out a few weeks ago, Reawakening Our Humanity, where he describes describes how this “dizzying time” offers us a great opportunity. We will “come out [of the pandemic] changed, but only if we start to change now,” Carrón says. In other words, only “if we are present to the present and learn now to judge what we are living,” only if our humanity is stirred from its slumber.

We wanted to go deeper into this point, to understand the nature and characteristics of that reawakening. How? Through the words of two figures who have grappled with the ideas found in Fr. Carrón’s book: a prominent American poet, Paul Mariani; an astute and insightful English theologian, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe; and then in the story of the Albanian cardinal Ernest Simoni, who spent a third of his 90 years of life locked up by a totalitarian regime, but did not live the time of his imprisonment as a “pause” in life, but rather as a time to discover what life really is. We offer these reflections because the true test of these days, even more than swabs and serological testing (which, of course, are very important) will be to observe ourselves in action, working to detect the signs of this reawakened humanity in ourselves and in others. And giving it space to grow by following the signs, so that our journey can continue uninterrupted.