Photo by: Paolo Bendandi // Unsplash

God Was Waiting For Me

Invited to reconsider the value of Charitable Work, Laura begins a journey and experiences God’s caress.

At last year’s Lent retreat, Luca provoked me to take the charitable work proposal seriously. Since the beginning of the pandemic, all charitable work activities ceased outside of fundraising for AVSI. At his provocation, I immediately went into crisis: how can I add another activity to the calendar? Although my objections seemed legitimate, I could not ignore the turmoil inside my heart. My husband and I started talking about this proposal, bringing it to the School of Community and our fraternity group. In particular, during a meeting with the fraternity group, it had become clear that even though my husband and I were aware of the importance of this gesture, we were still hesitant, trying to fit the proposal with our objections (i.e., that it was going to take too much time). But when God calls you, he doesn’t do it half-way.

During that conversation with our fraternity group, Giulia provoked us to take the proposal in its totality: going to charitable work once a month, as Fr. Giussani invites us to do, and not occasionally. At this point, what was turmoil inside me became a storm. However, I discovered that when God asks for everything, He doesn't ask us for giant steps right away. Instead, He gently accompanies us at our own pace and never leaves us to walk alone. One afternoon I found myself talking to Miriam, a mom from the community, and I asked her if she does charitable work. Miriam replies that they have not yet resumed but would be interested in starting, even once a month. “How is it possible?” I thought. “You have five children, and you are willing to do charitable work once a month, and I, who have three, don't?” Here is God's caress, He gives me a friend to walk with me. Immediately I set out to find a charitable work, a place where there was a need.

In September 2023, we started going to a nursing home near my daughter's school. Once a month, each family suggests an activity to do with the elderly and then we sing. Before going in, we say a prayer and read the booklet on charitable work. The generosity of our friends is bewildering: Marc and Meaghan, also initially hesitant like us, brought in a mega set of pumpkins to decorate in October! Gradually I realize that the hour spent with the elderly not only brings joy to them but also fills me. An hour given without asking for anything in return. Yet, the hour spent with them does not weigh me down, in fact it makes me experience simply being there, present, observing them. And the more I observe them the more I see with what joy and anticipation they watch us, especially the children. But, it makes me ask: Do I look at my children this way? Simply because they are there? No, many times I don't. This is how I see that time spent with the elderly changes the way I look at my children and my husband – seeing them in a different, kinder way. In giving my time, God gives me a hundredfold. God was waiting for me there. The words of the beginning day frame my experience: “Why do I follow even when something does not correspond, throwing me into a crisis? I follow out of faithfulness to the encounter that happened, that is the way the Mystery knocked at my door, at your door. “

Laura, Boston, MA