Small Christmas signs

Publish date 03-03-2024

by Arsenale dell’Incontro

In recent weeks, ten students in their first year of university, future doctors, engineers and company managers have come to us. Their training plan included the creation of a small social inclusion project, and since the little brother of one of them attends the Arsenale, they thought of us. They shared a morning with our children and teenagers, including educational activities, art, music and sports. Before leaving, one of them takes us aside, we realize that he has something to tell us face to face. Until a few minutes earlier he had been the driving force of the group, with great resourcefulness, talkativeness and sensitivity he had been able to involve everyone in the activities and even in the preparation he had shown all his ability. Now his gaze is teary-eyed, his voice struggles to come out. First silence speaks, then a few words follow: «You know, I have a younger brother who is like the children we played with today, how much I would like this to become his home too... I'll try to talk about it with my parents, I hope really that they decide to bring it." We don't know if this child will arrive here, but in that boy's eyes we saw the light of emotion that our little ones have sown in him... we entrust her to lead the way, to shed light. And we wait for them with the door open.

Then came the time for the Christmas party and the gifts. This year, as a sign in this difficult time, we thought we would dedicate them all to the little ones, and so the over 50 adults who attend the 'Arsenale received the proposal to receive a gift not for themselves but for the little ones in their homes: little brothers and sisters, nephews, cousins, neighbors... so that their gift could be to make the children happy. We weren't sure they would understand, but the educators encouraged us: "Many of them, even in everyday life, when they get sweets or chocolate from the Arsenale, they don't eat them and take them home to give to the children, you'll see that they will understand." And so it was. The joy on their faces moved us. Someone even translated it into words. A girl approaches with a stuffed animal in her hand and tells us: «I can't wait to get home and see my granddaughter Lyn: I'll make her happy tonight!». There is more joy in giving than in receiving (see Acts 20:35). Our little ones teach us this with their lives, as they are full of joy in making other little ones "smaller than them" happy. And so when we made the same proposal for their gifts to the educators and all the people who work with us, we saw faces eager to experience that same happiness. Truly, as Ernesto reminded us in his Christmas greetings: "the disabled people we welcome make us better people".

Finally we exchanged greetings with the people who keep the doors of this Arsenal open with us every day, asking everyone if they had something to share. One of the educators, who has been with us for over ten years and has just returned from maternity leave, said: «You always talk to us about love, about the importance of putting love into the things we do. In these months of pregnancy I understood this fully. I received a lot of attention in moments of difficulty and fatigue, in a silent but constant way you took care of me, you helped me live my wait well, without ever making me feel like the help I needed. Thank you". Nine months of waiting to learn to love from feeling loved freely. Let's start the new year with the desire to continue to make room for love, to search every day in everyday life, even when it is darkest and most tiring, for small signs of Christmas.

The Sermig Fraternity in Jordan
NP January 2024

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