Federica-Modesta left Naples some months ago in order to go to our community in Casablanca, where she will soon begin her novitiate. Before she left, her heart overflowing and her eyes full of wonder, she felt welling up inside a basic tension between memory and the path ahead. She’s certain of one thing: nothing will be lost. It was a moment to let the dust of her experiences settle, to see more realistically, to listen more clearly. So many gifts to be grateful for…
The rhythm of my days was set by my job at the workshop…I received so much from my relationships with my co-workers. They knew, well before I did, how to welcome the differences between us, how to bridge the divide. They taught me what to do.
Little by little, some of them began to come to our house. And even the ones who didn’t come physically settled into our prayer and our hearts, the space that holds the joys and difficulties of each person.
How many questions I got asked during these few months, questions that gradually went deeper and required increasing trust: I drew from the wellspring of what we live in order to answer, from the deepest desires of my heart. One day one of my co-workers saw me arriving on my bike, out of breath but happy. She asked me what was making me so happy, the work or the pay. At that moment, sweating and surprised, I answered that it was life itself giving me pleasure! As the day went on, I looked for a better, more complete answer; but I kept it to myself: that day, like all our days, had begun with communal prayer, with a song, with the choice to keep my eyes on Jesus and make room in my heart for gratitude. I went on working, dishevelled and thankful.
In encounters with neighbors and with friends from the parish, I tasted what it is to be welcomed unreservedly, thanks to all the little sisters who have lived here, the tracks left by all the goodness that has gone before me, and which hasn’t disappeared with the passage of time. The new relationships we weave in the neighborhood speak of the desire to be together, to listen, to be friends. They also speak of the meaning of our life given for others, of our door always being open. It can have meaning because it goes both ways: we are always welcomed ourselves, and never come home empty-handed.
We live together in a place known for violence, where the light of perseverance shines; we are isolated but upheld by a strength that stands up to testing; assaulted by crime but liberated by the commitment to justice. We live together in a community which, despite its flaws, doesn’t give up, and which desires to trust, in everything and despite everything, openhanded and giving, body and soul. I see men and women around me from whom life demands the impossible, and who teach me to trust the “God of the impossible.” It’s not always easy to live with the awareness of how privileged I am, if only because I chose a life that, for many people, is all a big delusion!
I turned 31 while I was here, then 32, and walking that little bit of road together makes me feel like I’m from Naples. I’ve picked up so many words (Neapolitan is different from Italian!). And then there was the earthquake it took to propel me from my own little corner of the world into this one right next door; then I had to find the right balance of proximity and distance that would enable me to live this new life.
“Tropp bell!” It was very beautiful! And it will be very beautiful, and now someone will teach me to say that in another new language.
Fortunately there are no limits on checked baggage: I’m carrying with me everyone I met, everything I lived.