I am twenty six years old and I study electronic engineering. When I was eight, I had an illness, wrongly diagnosed initially as a tumour on the brain, but which left me with a damaged optic nerve, and badly affected my eyesight. As a result I often wondered about suffering and the reasons for it.
When I was eleven, I was advised by doctors that I would never be able to compete at the highest levels in sport. I could play sport, but only as a pastime. I began to play basketball, but because I lacked 3D vision I was not a good player and the others made fun of me. At school, when teams were picked, I was always the last to be chosen because no one wanted me on their side. Increasingly, I asked myself what life what about.
When I was eighteen, I got a driving licence! It was a special one, renewable every two years, but it was hard to drive, because you have to foresee what other drivers are doing, and more than skill you need good eyesight. I saw how easy it was for my friends to “get up and go”, while I was unable to do so. It was hard to take and it still is.
There was something, however, that helped me believe that suffering has a purpose. When I thought of Jesus who died on the cross, I said, “Jesus, you had many ways of saving us, why did you choose the cross? Suffering must have a high priority, otherwise he would have solved the situation in another way!”
I was able to experience that the words of the Gospel, lived in a radical way, are really true, “to whoever loves me, I will show myself… give and there will be gifts for you…”. The times when I was able to live them in a serious way, I touched with my own hands the truth of everything that Jesus promises. And I experienced an immense, silent peace within, that no one could take away from me. This inner peace, that comes as a matter of course in those moments, leads me to believe that Someone up there loves me and has a plan of love for me. And everyday problems have become an opportunity to exercise charity, patience, faith and other virtues.
After fifteen years, the device they put in my head wore out and stopped working. I knew that this would happen sooner or later, but the doctors took two weeks to discover that the valve was not working. In the meantime my field of vision deteriorated even more.
I worked it out that if each time the drainage valve was blocked, my sight would worsen by a certain percentage, then by the age of 45 I would need a guide dog… When I left the doctor’s after that terrible news, I tried to listen to what Jesus was telling me. But all I had was an huge emptiness, a cosmic silence.
I went ahead, loving in the only the moment I had, the present. My sense of justice was transferred into doing things for others. In the university there is an office that helps students who for various reasons cannot follow the lessons and study. For me, this was more a gym than an office, a place to love those in the worst situations. They gave me a camera and a portable PC so that I could video the most difficult lessons, for which there are no suitable textbooks, or which require the guidance of a teacher to explain them properly.
This whole experience is like a gym where I can train day after day in patience, and humility, but most of all it opens a direct communication channel with those who suffer. The discovery of God who is Love gives me the strength and the joy to not close myself in my own problems, but to turn my gaze outside, towards my neighbours.
(M. T. – Italy)