Traces N.7, July/August 2020

Seeking new roads

It will not be the usual summer–that is for certain. In the age of the pandemic, habits have been uprooted all over the place, one after another. These months, too, will be a strange patchwork of commitments to catch up on and forced pauses, time for fresh air and time on Zoom, vacation (for those who still have it) or work (for those who still have it) under the shadow of circumstances that are still quite challenging. We can easily bet, however, on the fact that the positive spirit we already see will grow even stronger, an impulse that can be summed up by a word with many implications: “Restart.” Each of us interprets it in our own way, and there are even some who rightly point out its limits (if we restart without knowing where to go, or just go back to “before,” what will have been the point of this recent period?), but in the end it is the word that best expresses the urgent need to keep walking.

In the pages of this magazine, we often go back to Fr. Giussani’s intuition that summer is “the time of our freedom,” when regular obligations slow down a bit. What we choose to do and how we do it reveals what is truly important to us. This year, the boundaries are much narrower: there is no guarantee at all that we can simply follow our own plans. Paradoxically, however, this calls our freedom into play even more.
When restarting in the present context, nothing is automatic or a sheer act of will. It is not enough to sit waiting for someone else to deliver aid and regulations (though these are necessary), even if that is their responsibility.
And it is also not enough to redouble our efforts, fooling ourselves that we can do everything by ourselves. Rather, the restart will be an opportunity to recognize whether our humanity has truly been reawakened over the last few months, to see whether our freedom fully accepts the challenge of responding to the call of a reality that has never been so pro-vocative (vocare means “to call”), to see how we get moving, seeking new roads, weaving new and unprecedented relationships, and asking ourselves questions we usually take for granted.

The Rimini Meeting, one of the world’s largest cultural events,
held every summer in Rimini, Italy, is seeking to do this in its own way. We went to its organizers to learn how the Meeting will restart. The magazine also contains other stories of restarting in our Close-up and letters, and a witness from Sr. Laura Girotto, a missionary in Ethiopia. Above all, we offer to our readers the chance to follow a path outlined in a soon-to-be-published text by Fr. Julián Carrón, the leader of CL, now available in part at In The Brilliance in Your Eyes: What Saves Us from Nothingness? he takes a deeper look at the drama of the world today and at the gift Christianity brings into the world even in this unprecedented time. The eyes in which he sees “brilliance” are those of men and women who are fully alive and free.