Traces, N.7, July/August 2021

What remains?

The present is the only thing we have. The paradox is that precisely because we have it, we feel this inexhaustible tension to try to live it, to be present in the present. It is never entirely full and for this reason it catalyzes in us a continual flight forward.

Will we learn anything? This has been the underlying question of the pandemic. We have gone through months during which a virus has placed us once again in front of the essential things in life, but what have we gained as a help for living? The virus has behaved like many other things: it happens, it impacts our lives, and it almost forces us to open our eyes and see that existence does not belong to us; it makes us discover the greatness of the pure gift of life. Then it passes, and often with it the new gaze on reality that had pervaded our awareness. The same happens with moments of joy or with the shock of a tragedy that rips the veil of appearances.

What remains of what we have lived? The present is where the answer reveals itself. This issue takes up the provocation of Rosa Montero, a well-known Spanish writer and journalist, who, commenting in the columns of El País on the celebrations at the end of the healthcare emergency, said it is inevitable that we will go back to where we started and take things for granted again.
To her mind, we learn nothing because we are travelers toward a goal that is never attained: happiness. There is only today, the here and now. As she wrote, “The pandemic should have taught us something about the vibrant and unique truth of the present, of this very moment in which we live.”

But what does today, the here and now tell us about our life? Why is it reasonable to affirm that this precise instant in which we live has substance, that it is the beginning and not the end? The dialogue is open and for this reason we offer in this issue the text of an assembly with Fr. Julián Carrón and the communities of the Movement in Eurasia. The encounter with Christ throws reason wide open to see the ultimate depth of reality and our existence. We know we are growing as human beings when we discover we are “present.” It is the beginning of another way of living the present, without escaping, without giving up on the promise of fulfillment.

Is it possible not to postpone happiness? The content of the “Close-up” section is our contribution to the theme of the upcoming Meeting of Rimini (August 20-25) on the theme, “The Courage to Say ‘I.’” What is this courage, and what does it mean to say “I”? In facing these implacable questions, the space for an answer is created.