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Retreat Conference. Openess

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of Friday, at the end, if I survive until the end, I would prefer to interact instead of questions, which is a nice way to let me speak again, to share personal resonances, so each one just to point to a word, an image, a suggestion that has touched you and we can share. So, after in praise of openness, we explore today further elementary landscapes, trying to experience the wingspan of opening. So what are the wings of opening?


And we revolve, as you can see, around a human perspective first, so we explore otherness, desire and the missing one, then a monastic perspective, the burst of openness at the chapter 31 of the life of Saint Romuald, and third, an evangelical perspective, the tree of desire, Luke 19, clear. So yesterday our starting point was a visual artist, and today an artisan of word, or better, a celebrant of meaning.


We begin our flight passing by some verses of an Italian poet, Margherita Guidacci, that sound, It is not love that inhabits us, but it is we that inhabit love. How could we contain it? It is he, on the contrary, that contains us in its wide kingdom. As kids we wander in the halls of its wonderful palaces, discovering new treasures at every step. Even further we push forward till the shores caressed by the sea, its borders, and yet not really borders,


because we listen in every wave a voice carrying a message of other shores, which also are all kingdoms of love. So the poet, a woman, immediately gets it. There is a prior love from where we come, who is our deepest and maybe truest dwelling place, a source that enkindles and broadens our own loves. And our first elementary human experience of openings happens with our birth,


with our primordial dip into the turbulent sea of life and of time. Our birth inaugurates an ambivalent contact with otherness. Because of our exposition to a totally new environment, we experience at the same time a traumatic suffering in our body, forced to accomplish a somersault through the tunnel of the uterus and the tenderly touch of a motherly care that is welcoming us. We are openness and we are opened by others.


We are openness. Our birth is a permanent, unprotected coming out from the womb, which is our same body. We are constantly pregnant. We must generate our self till the end of our life. And for this reason we never stop being born, unfolding into what we are not yet and could become, in the dance of gestures, words, emotions and discernments that make our life blossoming, fading, blooming again and again. We are openness but we are also opened.


Not only are we openness to others but as human beings we come to the world thanks to the others. We could say we experience our first choir practice being welcomed in the midst of confused voices, shadows, noises, arms that nourish us. From the beginning our body, like a cookie soaked in milk, absorbs the sign of affection or disaffection, of beings approaching to us, the ones that take us into their arms, direct their gaze, word, smile or reproach towards us,


teach us to go with trust into the open sea of the world, not always reliable, initiate us to the experience of feeling, speaking, walking and even biting. The writer Svetan Todorov wonders what could be the specifically human beginning of an individual. And according to him that happens after some weeks, after the birth of unweaned baby, when it performs a gesture that can't be compared to the animal kingdom.


At that moment the baby is no more satisfied just to look at its mother but try to attract her attention to be gazed. The baby wants to be recognized by the look that contemplates it. The event through which we enter in an unequivocally human world begins with the acknowledgement of ourselves by another human being with a loving look that reciprocates with our one. And obviously it is also the beginning of our conquer, possession, capacity to wound the other with our look and gaze.


Each one of us exists in the world because of the gift from a source other than ourselves to which we are open, from which we receive ourselves. And each one of us configures all the immemorial presences that have permanently nurtured and enriched our life. Parents and friends, teachers and lovers, gods and dreams, fragrances and tastes, games and music, movies, rites and instruments. We become ourself going always beyond the limits in which we have lived until that moment, going towards what remains to search after every discovery,


towards the good that remains to be realized after each act of love, towards the life that is still waiting after every interiorized gift of love. We are originally openness, exposed and involved in an adventure whose course moves, drives, attracts, marks, wounds, consumes us. As it is magnificently expressed by the woman dying in the cave at the end of the movie The English Patient. We die rich in loves and rich in lovers, in tastes we have swallowed, in bodies we have penetrated going up them as rivers, in fears in which we have hidden ourselves.


I want all of that lies engraved in my body. It is we who are the true moving countries, not the boundaries marked on the maps with names of powerful men. So openness and now desire, we wonder what makes our bodies unfulfilled, exceeding, insatiable. The fact that we are need, that we are born defective of everything, and the first cry we elevate coming in the world, marks the sign of our radical lack.


The need is the guest of the self, where the self has no choice in the matter. We are being of desire in a perennial transition, every satisfied need opening us to a new one, towards new goals that inevitably open new expectations. Desires that have no fulfillments, that last all life long. And this endless dynamic reveals the enormity of our need. It gives form and vigor to the desire that inhabit our life and our dearest affections, that appear to us to be listened to, not to be ignored, to decipher and to respond.


Listening to needs reveals, for example, that none of us, even when we are hungry, desire just bread. Or when our solitude longs to be satisfied, desires just a warm body. Or when we experience sickness, desire just to survive. The need points to, transforms into something other, open the frontiers of our feeling and thinking overrunning into the unknown. The need to eat, change hunger into being. Desire into exchange, sharing words, ideas, visions, dreams.


It trespasses maybe into the share of the bread that comes from God, gives us this day our daily bread. The need of the other person belongs with the larger horizon, that one of the lover to which I give myself and by whom I am acknowledged, in a dizzy spiral of an inexhaustible delight and maybe turns into invocation of the unfathomable you in the abyss of prayer. Prayer gushes forth from the depth of our distance and closeness to God.


At the core of the need, a desire is hidden that presses on unsatisfied and opens us to other, takes us in presence of other, of all that we ourselves are not, of all that happened to us and we have no idea of the repercussions of the tremendous landscapes of soul where speechless things agitate. All longing at its deepest level is a longing for the divine other. Maybe to experience God means to experience that unsatisfying tension


that a creative energy excites in us, that other that announces itself from every finite other, other from reality, other from the laws of necessity, other from the sales force, the market force, the exchange force, other from everything which is built, projected, wanted, known, deliberated, set, seen, or visible. God has that emotional passion that in the order of the finite warns us we never totally experience fullness but always leans out in an evasive eternity.


There is something lurking in our souls, a nostalgia for a reality that our conscious selves cannot describe, that the cognitive mind cannot define. The French-Jewish Simone Weil says that to be proud means to forget that we are God. So it is a strange thought. But to be proud doesn't mean for her to make oneself equal to God, but paradoxically to forget that we guard at the core of ourselves a treasure that always shines in us,


and another Dutch-Jewish woman, Etty Hillesum, in the concentration camp, so in the middle of hell, says that the only thing we can save in this time and the only thing that really has worth is a small piece of you in ourselves, my God, and maybe we can also contribute to exhume you from the ravaged heart of other people. So, at the end, we can discover that the most precious thing we possess is really my insufficiency of love,


my limit, my imperfection. It is indeed my incompleteness that pushes me out of myself toward a presence that calls me outside. If my love could fill me or suffice, it would be reduced to my limited love. What seems important is to prevent the filling so that the hole we are remains open. If everything I need is instantly available or easily accessible, then there is nothing for which I yearn, and yearning is the bridge to myself and to the Divine, to God. In the unfillable desire, the missing is present as emptiness.


Desire without possession, love of nothing we possess, that doesn't give possession, but dispossesses. In acknowledging that I miss someone or that I long for it, I am acknowledging that my heart is wider, incorporates many other layers of reality. My heart is wider. God has our burning heart. A French thinker, Jean-Luc Nancy, had a heart transplantation some years ago,


and remembering that experience, he says, We never feel by our own, but always the things come from elsewhere, from the other, from outside. More profoundly one feels, more intimately, more in the heart of the heart, the more is the thing coming from afar. Even if this feeling or sensation comes from ourselves, from our own depth, the thing arises in us from another depth, from another cavity hidden close to the heart, behind the heart,


or even in the depths of the heart. The other makes itself feeling, invests the heart with sensitiveness, and in this way it renders sensitive what is insensitive. Enough for the first point. So now we move in a flash to the very middle of the life of Saint Romuald, the burst of openness at the core of a monastic experience. So, for two years, Romuald has been experiencing seclusion.


He delocated from the accustomed space and relationships of ordinary life to intensified avoid around and into him, to stay in presence of the beloved, and maybe the seclusion of our monastic life tries to offer us wings for the desire of the absolute, but it is an exposition to the enormity of love who slowly melts our measures and refine our senses. The scene instructs us that however he could tried, he was not able with his own efforts to attain compunction,


that is to say, to break the shell of ego and to pulse with love's heart. And in this desperate, darkening condition, he experiences openness as a gift, a sudden eruption of tears loses the network of his strivings and pains, his mind is pervaded by the Spirit and he bursts into an ecstatic, enthusiastic song. So, tears and then music. Dear Jesus, dearest my sweet honey, inexpressible desire. And the biographer to illuminate the event quotes the apostle.


Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. So it is the absolute who first pulls the thread, undoes the knitting of our habit, of which we are the author, the product and the prisoner. So we could say, goodness, it seems that we end always in tears. Scholastica and then Romeo, but there is a truth here. Flooding tears, as it is the case of Scholastica with Benedict and with Romeo,


is the sign of melting of our inner rigidities and impossibilities. And the beginning of a circulation, because God desires to circulate everywhere like blood, breath, water, music. Desire is probably this, to keep open the door for this other from everything, to stay in the presence of an unthought of and unthinkable absence. And finally we move towards the Gospel. So there is a tree of desire there. It is the tree of Zacchaeus.


Be happy. So the story of Zacchaeus is the story of a short, tall man, who, like each one of us, is searching for something more than his work, expertise, role and so on. This discomfort causes a fit, urging us to pass beyond the prison of an inadequate explication of ourselves, presses you to climb the tree to go out of line, maybe in search of something of yourself that has not been found yet, maybe a hidden and unknown part of you longs to come out into the open,


to be rescued or acknowledged, each one of us crossed by a shiver of something getting buried that only God can unearth. And at the beginning of a journey there is always the perception of a distance to cover, that drives us to climb higher, a way to grow, to open to others. It can be a meditative path, a restraint, a research, a therapy, a trip. They are all birthplaces of that unknown and unnameable side of soul that doesn't cease to goad us,


to drive us to climb a tree as a kid and at every age of life. The tree of longing that shimmers and hums at the roots of our soul as a divine epiphany. I must stay at your house today. We meet this mysterious unlimited must that urges in God's heart maybe the same substance of love. Luke emphasizes at different times God's delirious passion for every lost person, for every loss in the life of a person, to revive what has been lost.


And an uncontrollable joy rouses when that happens. We have to celebrate and rejoice because this brother was dead and has come to life. Till somebody is missing to the banquet of life there is no peace in God's heart. He must go to find the missing sheep. I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. So this permanent desire. Jesus' glance that meets the hidden one of Zacchaeus seems to sense the desire of his interlocutor better of Zacchaeus himself.


This glance from below and the one who laughs never looks at the other from on high. This glance that doesn't judge but recognizes him, calls him by name, seizes his dissatisfaction, his speechless cry, his dead passion. To truly desire somebody means to ask him to be welcomed by his mystery, to contact and recognize the transcendence of the other. And Zacchaeus meets a glance different from the glances he had met till that moment. He finds in Jesus' glance something that neither him nor the others were able to return.


He was imprisoned and nailed to a definition, a role that he no longer accepts. And that Jesus is able to recognize, to revive a buried brilliance and gives to him the possibility to see and to perceive himself as a beloved son of God. Jesus can touch the heart of Zacchaeus through his glance and can see Zacchaeus' eyes sparkling with joy and his heart swelling with overwhelming emotion. So the glance. Whereas all of us have eyes, there are only a few able to express a glance.


All of us have eyes that the ophthalmologist watches, controls, sees, but few are the eyes that can be messengers of something special, that is to say of a glance. So I entrust you with a final question. Can we be in tune with Jesus' eye, Jesus' style, who brings to light the precious vein, the precious desire hidden in every heart without discrimination? So we started with the words of a woman, Margherita Guidacci, telling us of a message coming from other shores.


And now I like to conclude with the words of another woman, Emily Dickinson, speaking to us of the immensity of our brain, which is also soul, heart, openness. The brain is wider than the sky, for put them side by side, the one the other will contain with ease and you beside. The brain is deeper than the sea, for hold them blue to blue, the one the other will absorb as sponges buckets do. The brain is just the weight of God, for heft them pound for pound, and they will defer, if they do, as syllable from sound.


Thank you.