“Like the knots of a fisherman's net”

Mercedes recounts how visiting the New York Encounter allowed her to rediscover herself as part of a bigger history that she desires to share with everyone: "we are like the knots of a fisherman's net, connected to others by infinite threads."

This year I was able to participate in the New York Encounter. Some time ago, when we arrived in London, my friend Blanca told me about her desire to make cultural proposals to show the world the beauty of what we have found. She asked me if I shared that desire and wanted to participate, together with her and some of her friends, in promoting this in London. At that moment, my answer was: "I don't have that need, but I'll accompany you." A few months ago Blanca told me that she had met a friend who organizes the NY Encounter and talking with her about this desire that she has in her heart, and she had invited her to go to New York to participate in the Encounter. When she told me, she asked me: "Would you and Andrew come?" The answer was immediately affirmative: following someone who opens the horizon is a criterion that is already permanently present in our lives and, furthermore, we know that "whoever does not have virtues must have friends".

We arrived in New York a couple of days before the start of the Encounter, so we took the opportunity to visit an impressive city that continually reminds us of being in a movie.

On the first day of the Encounter we visited an exhibition on Piccinini, based on the latest book on his life that has finally been translated into English. I immediately thought of Andrew and Jill: how many times I have told them about the book, how many paragraphs I have translated for them…! They can now read it in their mother tongue. At the end of the exhibition I bought a copy. I was touched once again by the desire for unity of life in everything we do and with this desire I fully immersed myself in the Encounter.

It was not a supermarket with many proposals on its shelves, but rather everything followed a common thread, a unit: the exhibition on the meaning of work, Nietzsche, Fr. Giussani, meetings on literature, the reason for suffering, a meeting with Erik Varden, the presentation of the new English translation of “The Religious Sense”. Sunday Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Seán Patrick O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, other bishops and many priest friends of the movement: a spectacle of communion.

"Who Am I that you care for me?" was the title this year. This question fills me with surprise these days.

During our days in New York, we met old friends, and others we know little about, but to whom a bigger story unites us: Marc, Sal, Stefano... And we have also made new friends: Paolo, Alessandro... I remember that phrase I heard once from a friend: we are like the knots of a fisherman's net, connected to others by infinite threads, and I imagine Saint Peter sewing the net when it loosens. Another phrase from a friend comes to mind: friendships do not replace each other when you change countries or circumstances, they expand. I witness this in my life and it became even more clear during these days in New York.

Read also - Cézanne becomes Cézanne

I took the new book about Fr. Giussani by Carmen Giussani to read on the plane, I read a paragraph: “John and Andrew, Peter, Philip, Nathanael… Stories like ours, simple encounters that radically change your life. Everything is born like this, through people who are entering our history, from a friendship that arises, from an ever more intense communion of life”. And I am reminded of one of the panels in the exhibition on Fr. Giussani that the Canadian friends had prepared for the Encounter: “I went to visit Don Giussani in 1996 and I told him that they had started a School of Community in Vancouver. Don Giussani excitedly asked Tracce's editor to put Vancouver on the cover of the Christmas magazine, but he said that it could not be changed because it was already ready to print. Don Giussani insisted that they change it and they did. Then he told me: ‘My mother met Christ, I met her, Ana Lydia (in Sao Paolo) met me, you met Ana Lydia (in Cambridge), Christine met you (in Vancouver)…’ . In what was not important to me, Fr. Giussani perceived the Mystery and the surprise, and at the same time the carnality in this new event”. From a big Yes to other small ones that lead me to the Lord. I am here for the "yes" of others.

I ask myself again the question that Blanca put to me a couple of years ago: "Don't you have that desire?" I now answer differently: I want everyone to know Beauty with a capital B, and now I can't say that I don't need it; if I have found it, it is not for me but for the world.

Mercedes, London