There is such a richness of material offered to us for our reflection, our inspiration, our encouragement as we rapidly become familiar with a new and busy calendar year. January is the month that witnesses to Salesian holiness in its diverse richness of expression and lived reality. Don Chávez as Don Bosco’s ninth successor leaves us with “two pearls of great price”’ to be cherished. Seek, find and savour the treasures in his Strenna to the Salesian Family as Rector Major and his warm personal, intimate, heart written final letter from Rome to all young people. He incarnates for us “Pastoral charity” the core and synthesis of Salesian Spirituality.
This feast of Don Bosco, the Mystic, Prophet and Servant invites us to draw and drink deeply from his spiritual life so as to live out our response to our specific vocation in freedom, in joy, in selfless loving service.
An image that may not be factually true but has influenced me and my understanding of our Founder is that early scene in the old black and white film of Don Bosco that many love and have been inspired by.
The young Bosco on his way to attend lessons with Don Colosso, who encouraged him to follow his dream and help other young people like himself, comes upon a bird that has been ensnared and sets it free.
That incident captures the essence of the Salesian spirit and vocation. The heart of the educator is involved in a work of art. The educator sees possibilities and lovingly accompanies and facilitates the process that liberates. The poetic words and expression of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand and Stars, “touches that call within to something beyond, to honour and realise a dream that speaks of freedom. This is birthright”.
“When the wild ducks or the wild geese migrate in their season, a strange tide rises in the territories over which they sweep. As if magnetized by the great triangular flight, the barnyard fowl leap a foot or two into the air and try to fly…. All the ducks on the farm are transformed for an instant into migrant birds, and into these hard little heads, till now filled with humble images of pools and worms and barnyards, there swims a sense of continental expanse, of the breath of seas and the salt taste of the ocean wind. The duck totters to right and left in its wire enclosure, gripped by a sudden passion to perform the impossible and a sudden love whose object is a mystery”.
Don Bosco the servant of the DREAMER MAN challenges and reminds us that we are disciples of the Kingdom Dream. Let it not be said of us that our greatest fear is our freedom and find that ‘’domestic security has succeeded in crushing out that part of us that is capable of heeding the call. We scarcely quiver; we beat our wings once or twice and then fall back into our barnyard. We are prudent people. We are afraid to let go of our petty reality in order to grasp at the great shadow”.
God dreams big. He wants us to fly. Ours are only a shadow of his trust, hope and confidence in us. He will carry us on eagle’s wings.
Lloyd Bracken, a teacher in Celbridge, coordinated with others a school initiative called Busking for Friendship. ‘‘The true beauty of music is that it connects people. It carries a message and we the musicians are the messengers’’. (Roy Ayers) He reminds his students of the Irish phrase referring to the death of someone “tá an phort seinnte aige”. His tune is played out. This suggests that we are each a unique piece of music and life is where we share and play that tune. The Salesian symphony comprises the sum total of all our individual songs woven together.
Our collective song is best expressed when we are truly a community. Lyodd presents James Taylor’s iconic song, ‘You’ve got a Friend’ as a fitting commentary on the outreach that Don Bosco offered to the young, especially the more vulnerable. ‘You just call out my name and you know wherever you are I’ll come running to see you again… all you’ve gotta do is call and I’ll be there yes I will, you’ve got a friend’ .
What song do we sing and live out of?
Maybe today invites us to listen again and draw from the youthful, faithful, joyful, and homely welcoming well and fountain of friendship that makes us bearers of God’s compassionate and unconditional love. This is Don Bosco’s Dream song realised.
Let’s soar in freedom and sing the old ever ancient love song anew as gift shared.
Happy Feast day.