„I do not get these people!” said Roxana, when we sat on the couch and told her that certain charity organization in Barcelona refused our offer for cooperation. “How is it possible to reject someone who comes to them, offers them a hand as a volunteer and even wants to collect money for them by saying that it’s simply not part of their routine?„
When a door closes a window opens
We somewhat got used to this in Spain, but more and more we were getting convinced that there might be some deeper reason for the closed door.
Just as Roxana, our dear friend from Barcelona, would read our minds, she said: „Maybe God has another plan for you. You know, when a door closes a window opens.“
If home, then home!
Before me and Silva headed on the road, we were determined that we would try to recognize God’s will at any given moment. Our desires on one side contrasting to what God has planned for us on the other side.
I remember when we visited our archbishop Stane Zore before the departure. He welcomed us and blessed the Operando and our mission, but we were also warned that the journey can turn out differently as expected.
„And if God says to go home?“ he asked me witilly speaking in my Gorenjska dialect. I replied laughing: „Then we’ll come home.“
Confirmations along the way
However God has not been closing doors along the way. Quite the contrary. He has led us to some of the nicest people we’ve ever met on our journey, so be in the Ark community and Cottolengo hospital or in Paris and Spain. Not even mentioning our personal meeting with Pope Francis.
No, at that moment, when Roxana was comforting us, we certainly didn’t feel that our way was wrong or misguided. Then we remebered the case of St. Paul, when he wanted to preach the Gospel in Bithynia, but noted that the path does not lead him there since the door was simply closed. Therefore, he continued his way in Macedonia, just where the Lord wanted him to be.
God of surprises
On our way, we acquaint ourselves with God in different ways. God reveals himself through the poor and through people who care for them. He reveals himself through friends, which support us, encourage and help us when necessary.
We recognize Him as God of surprises, who let us stay uncertain for some time, but never for too long, just enough to remember that everything is still dependent on Him.
When things seem blurred, when confusion or even despair arise, it is usually a sign that God is up to something.
Email that refocused our journey
The next day we received an email, which was sent as a two months due reply, however with very legitimate reason behind.
This was a message by a person who has greatly influenced my spiritual development, especially at the beginning, twelve years ago, when I received the sacraments and become a Christian. I met him at a meeting of missionaries in Celje at St. Joseph, which I was attending with a group of future lay missionaries.
He was telling me about St. Vincent and his life. He invited me to Ukraine, where he until recently worked as a missionary. At that time, I decided otherwise and joined an Argentinian mission in Bariloche, but we nevertheless remained in contact ever since.
I wrote about our meeting in Paris with sister of charity Francka Saje. She mentioned that Slovenian p. Tomaž Mavrič was elected at the forehead of Lazarists religious community back in April.
He became superior general, therefore, the supreme head of the community. I was happy and surprised. Congregation of the Mission is certainly getting the right man at the top.
I did not hesitate. On the same day, when we returned to Chatillon, I wrote my old friend an email to congratulate him on the occasion. I am not sure if congratulation is the right word as nomination for such a position comes with a large crucifix and a pile of responsibilities.
Colaboration with the Lazarists
All of you who read us from the beginning may recall our initial plans for the route. Here, I wrote about a chance of some kind of cooperation between the Operando and the Lazarists.
Silva and I both wanted to connect with an organization which shares similar values to Operando and whose main mission is to help the poor. Monastic community of Lazarists, with the charisma of its founder St. Vincent de Paul certainly fits our aspirations.When things are blurred, when confusion and despair arise, it's a sign that God is up to something. Click To Tweet
At that time, discussions with the Congregation of the Mission slightly muted, since we were already on our way withouth having much time for the organization of a major undertaking. However, God knew why, right?
Invitation for a meeting
The message in Barcelona that I received from p. Tomaž Mavrič has been very encouraging and as always, very friendly. He welcomed our project, briefly described their plans and his anticipated trips and he also expressed a desire to meet and talk.
Although p. Tomaž was in Rome and we’re in Barcelona, we made a swift decision. God is clear, no doubt about it. If we encountered a closed door in Spain, there might be a window open elsewhere and we should find it and look through it. As simple as that. And God was pointing in the direction of Rome – again. So be it!
Sailing to Rome
After two days we thanked Roxana for her generous hospitality, headed to the main port in Barcelona and boarded a ferry straight to Citavecchio, a port near Rome.
You will not believe it, but a luxury cruise ship Cruise Barcelona was by far the cheapest option of transport, taking us only € 95 alltogether. Even Bla Bla Car would be more expensive.
Well, we could still hitchhike, but we did not want to waste any time and we barely recovered from our recent adventures with Jesus Hernandez. 🙂
Ark after three months of separation
After twenty hours of leisurely sail along the Mediterranean Sea, we arrived in the Roman port and the same evening again boarded the Ark – the same community, where we have already spent two and a half months, and where we were happily expected by the assistants and people with mental disabilities. After three months, we again breathed the spirit of community and interconnectedness. We arrived at the Ark on Friday for a meeting with p. Tomaž which was scheduled on Sunday afternoon.
Some positive developments
Il Chicco community is up to some changes as well. Positive ones. With the help of donations received, the community may have taken a couple of new guys and girls with the disorder and then open doors of their third house, which has so far been closed because of financial reasons. Preparations are on the way, the house should be ready by November. God is working!
Dinner with p. Tomaž
P. Tomaž invited us to dinner that Sunday. We met at the obelisk at St. Peter’s square. A hearty embrace and the joy of reunion. In a relaxed atmosphere and with excellent food, our conversation more or less dealt with our path so far, Operando in general and the opportunities that are available for a decisive step ahead.
In our next post you may read about our decisons made and about the directions to continue our journey!
Until then: God is working – right now, right this moment. Operando!