The happiness of giving
Publish date 25-12-2022
I am always impressed by volunteering, and I am moved when I recognize its beneficial effects in people's looks and smiles.
Today, however, I would like to tell you an anecdote that was unexpected for me, but which perhaps will help even more to amplify a message as simple as it is revolutionary: giving oneself makes one happy!
In the town where I live, thanks to an enlightened group of volunteers, several days of maintenance work have been organized on the street furniture, often left to perish under increasingly violent atmospheric agents. An activity that for months has been receiving gratitude from many citizens satisfied with the obvious aesthetic improvements of the place.
In Mondo Nuovo, one of the seven hamlets of Cuasso al Monte, the work of the volunteers involved the redevelopment of an enormous area used as a public car park, with the painting of the perimeter networks and the creation of an area to the shelter of the rubbish bins of the large neighboring condominium, often attacked by gluttonous wild boars.
However, the previous week, a couple of citizens well prepared for collaboration, having become aware of the planning of the works in their area, also invited the inhabitants of the same condominium to participate. Result? 45 people, of various age groups, joined the group of the Municipality's volunteer team.
The youngest was 14 and the oldest was 86. They were relatives, grandmother and granddaughter. The most expert of hers, however, showed up armed with a stick to support her stability, while her granddaughter involved her with her overflowing energy.
They presented themselves with the modesty of those who know well that volunteering only needs an action that comes from feeling and nothing else. Together, they were the essence of any Christian message, and made the ever-complex doctrine concrete and tangible. Seeing two generations so distant, so different, so difficult to unite, being able to share time, objectives, effort, and why not even the paint stains, gave smiles to anyone who watched them work, as well as encouraging all those who slowly they accused the tiredness of the day.
The grandmother and her granddaughter dedicated themselves to restoring some gates rusted by time, and I think they did not imagine how much effort it would take to restore the iron to its former glory. The certain thing is that both managed very well, even if neither of them had ever done it.
I often stopped to spy on their work, their hugs, their smiles, but also the little squabbles that arose from time to time, and where the grandmother only managed to get the better of them thanks to the many more years of life lived. Maybe one day the sides will reverse, but that day was still too far away.
They were scenes filled with images to be transformed into memories to be placed in the casket that preserves only precious things, unforgettable because they were born of love.
After five hours of work, baked by a very hot sun, with red cheeks and sweaty forehead, the two magnificent volunteers greeted me, and with that kindness that displaces, they said: «Thank you, beautiful day! See you next time!". The granddaughter smiled, then shyly lowered her gaze, and like in the famous Charlie Chaplin scene, she took her grandmother's hand and gently they went back into the house.
I looked at them until the door closed, and the only word I managed to utter in a whisper was: «Thank you!».
NP October 2022