We live in desert times, even though winter is taking place. Although in different conditions, realities, or circumstances, we are all in the same boat, with no exception. What is this echoing in me? Silence? Urgency? Impotence? Fear? A need to be with others? To touch? A new clarity around life and the times we are leaving? Today, the passages we pray and commemorate in Lent are becoming surprisingly real.
Resounding the Ark of Noah, the conscience of the Common Home, has become, in our vulnerability, a reminder of how in fact everything is connected (Laudato Si’), how interdependent we are, how we need one another. This time of crossing the desert makes our belonging to the History of Salvation so vivid, as part of the People who walked in darkness, guided by Prophets. We are challenged by Pope Francis to dream with a better future, like Saint Joseph, where our lives and ways of living reveal Love and Goodness.
We are all in the same boat, but the boat is unbalanced. The more vulnerable are the most affected ones. A year ago, the Jesuit Universal Apostolic Preferences for the next 10 years were presented. The short video that we saw for the first time here in Casa Velha with Pedro Walpole SJ, came to my mind.
“Can you hear the call of reality, the call of God?” I would say this experience is opening our eyes and ears. Because living the same destiny, although forced to put on masks and not to touch each other, this common threat can allow us a deeper relation, breaking so many layers that drive us away. We listen and repeat each day, in a surviving strategy: everything will be okay. We should also deepen what it means, keeping memory of this moment of truth, solidarity and faith, that is moving us in compassion.
Dreaming the future, walking together to the Promised Land until Easter, going through the winter, already reached by spring. A spring for nature, made even more alive by the slowing down of our activity. The fragility we live in is surprisingly Biblical, it is a disconcerting Lent, which has shaken us and raised our Lands.
Yes, spring has arrived, and it wants to animate our journey, our quarantine. Life appears strong and glorious, telling us not to be afraid, to have confidence, to look at the birds in the sky and the flowers in the field. (Luke 12) The truth is that for the vast majority of us in this time, closed in an apartment with little space, feeling this spring will be very challenging.
This is not my reality. I am part of the group at greatest risk, but paradoxically, my desert, my isolation is the Eden of Casa Velha, where Creation is celebrating Spring. The Good Shepherd set a table before me in front of my enemies; the Good Shepherd anointed my head with oil; my cup overflowed. (Psalm 23)
In the last post in the Casa Velha website, we published the activities that should happen in March, which would bring several groups and initiatives here.
Among many others, there is a weekend with the Portuguese delegation to the international meeting in Assisi on 26-28 March, The Economy of Francesco,where young people from 115 countries will gather to answer the call of Pope Francis. Young economists, entrepreneurs, change-makers are coming together in Assisi “to make a commitment in making the economy of today and tomorrow fair, sustainable, and inclusive, with no one left behind.”
We hope we have the time to do it as well as so many things that need common discernment after this battle.
At last, Casa Velha got absolutely free for all creatures. The conversations, the laughter, the sharing, the work in the garden are delivered to the many beautiful birds that every day give me live symphonies. I feel myself in a great Temple…in my heart I offer all this Goodness for the Peace of all our Family.
“The beauty is so great, and we are so fragile…” (Daniel Faria in Livro do Joaquim) This beauty that makes our bowl overflow, blesses us, guides us through the dark valleys. This Great Silence has made me thankful for so many things, including the winters that have passed.
It has also brought me the urgency of unspoken words, or the certainty of silences to be respected. It has made me thank the Creator and His mercy, feeling the urgency to share it.
Then the idea came that Casa Velha, this place that reminds us that “we are in this world as in a great Temple” (Saint Raphaela Mary), could turn on and awaken Spring in all the small cells that each of our houses and communities are right now and giving us energy to be small lights in the world, raising the Kingdom.
We then propose a challenge until the Easter, launched every morning with a “Casa Velha spring window.” Beyond the opportunity of a common spiritual journey, it can help to concentrate and occupy the whole family at a time of the day, it can generate a great sharing with this extended Family to which we belong and finally, very importantly, it will be a beautiful and concrete way to keep a memory of these times.
It’s our turn to write this Chapter of History, keeping memory – this is what we live in Easter, this is what Jesus, our Good Shepherd, asks and teaches us.
Margarida Alvim is the co-founder of Casa Velha, a family home transformed into an Ecology and Spirituality center in Ourém, Portugal, and collaborates with Ecojesuit in caring for our common home.
Previous stories on Casa Velha:
Spirituality for action in two houses caring for our common home (2019)
Casa Velha: When spirituality and ecology come together (2019)
Laudato Si’ in action in Casa Velha (2017)
Casa Velha: Ecology and spirituality, an Ignatian collaboration (2015)