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On the bench in our church

You move. You give a start. You spring up. And you show me, once again, that the Word is able to speak, every time in a different way, to the self that we are in that precise moment of our lives. Females, males, children or the elderly, frail, strong, believers, sceptics, the sick. It was Sunday, 20 December, we listened as we sat on the bench of our church – I who was finding it an effort to keep standing on my feet that morning, you who are now six months in the womb and are at exactly the same stage as He was. It is a Gospel that I know, and not because I am particularly expert in Scripture but because it is an important step: two pregnant women meet and recognize each other, a beautiful passage of friendship in the feminine which stands out in a story of a humanity that meditates little on the profound closeness between women because it believes little. Today, however, you are here and my listening is renewed. Today the Visitation no longer speaks to me but speaks to us. The tale is neither truer nor less authentic (I remain convinced that motherhood does not coincide with being a woman; it is a possible declination of it but does not complete it), it is only different. Like everything it is different now. My body that changes because yours changes; my step, obliged to slow down because being behind you is not easy, my little one.

I think of You who set out to join Elizabeth. How was she? Who was she with? How much stamina did she need? Was she afraid? What would she have said to her little one while they were moving on? Only a male narrator who is not a father can skim over such crucial details. And yet, at first, I had not thought of them either. I had paused on the dance, at the end of the journey, between Mary and Elizabeth: but the scene, I realize now, is far richer. For in the clasped arms there are also Jesus and John, before they become the Jesus and John whom we know.

In the first months there was no correspondence between the joy of knowing you were with us and my body that was suffering. I hoped to get better, but in any case I was grateful because you were there, even if I did not yet feel you. Then you grew and made yourself known: it is now months since my stomach has been rippled across by marvellous waves since it changed from being protuberant like a dromedary’s hump to assuming the form of a Perugina Bacio [chocolate “kiss”]. Sometimes you blow bubbles (blow kisses, I say to my nephews and nieces who are euphoric about their expected cousin), just as Jesus leaped upon hearing the words of Elizabeth, when, turning, your father greeted you; I wonder how many hands and how many feet you have, given the chaos you are creating.

I would like to ask you, one day, what you felt when you leaped, when you spoke to me with your movements, when you tried to make yourself known to us, when you recognized your Jesus, when you shared in the joy of Mary and Elizabeth. No memory afterwards: I know. And then my memory will be our memory; my voice will be our voice. This is what the Visitation tells me today. It says this to both of us, my little one.

Giulia Galeotti




St. Peter’s Square

Oct. 15, 2019