Spring Letter

To our esteemed co-workers and friends around the world

Solomeo, 17 March 2020

Who sends the swallows? Almost always, when I'm away on business during the first days of March, I call home and ask if the swallows have returned to Solomeo. I ask this question for two reasons: because I've loved them since I was a child, and because sometimes, I've heard, they stop coming back to some countries; maybe they don't fit in there anymore, and I find this a little unsettling.

So this year too I had been waiting for them for a few days, because you can set your clock on them: on March 15 or so, here they are again, with their joyful chirping and harmonious twirling. And sure enough, yesterday, all of a sudden, they arrived. While I was sitting in my office inside the ancient castle, face to face with my morning thoughts, I caught a glimpse of them, already frenziedly busy hunting insects, coming and going laboriously under the eaves of the roof, where I welcome them as one of the most beautiful gifts of Creation. Every year I rejoice at the swallows, but in this slightly less easy year I sort of saw in them the symbol of rebirth.

A few days ago I thought of us all as sailors. I like this image, because that's how Dante saw the men who pass through life. At times like this we perceive our nature as sailors even more: like Ulysses, we tie ourselves to the mast if there is a storm, and like Christopher Columbus we gaze into the horizon in search of the first birds, divine messengers of land and our Mother Earth.

Every good sailor knows that a lighter boat is easier to steer; today, abiding by the rules of those who are responsible for our health, we have relieved ourselves of many petty habits that we perhaps believed to be indispensable to a happy life. Instead, how surprising it is to realize that after all we feel lighter, among our family, among us, in a harmonious life from another time. I would like us all to learn to see the joy that there is in painful things too.

In today's suffering there is also the good of the moral reaction that will make us better, and perhaps tomorrow, when the memory slips away along with the suffering, we will come to the same conclusion as Aristotle, who once said that even calamities have a soul and can teach us a wise life.

My dear friends and sailors, who have witnessed with me the birth of our beautiful company and who enliven it every day with your brilliant minds, I would like you to be able to steer the wheel of your vessel, just as I - as a boy - managed to keep the plow straight, while my father happily admired those straight furrows, enchanted by their beauty.

I would like you to acknowledge the truth within the measures laid down by our esteemed leaders in the current crisis, leaders of Science, Government, Health, and I would like you to comply with them with patient discipline. I would like you to be aware but not apprehensive; I would like the certainty of a return to life as usual to be alive in you.

There have been, in every part of the world, times and events much more painful than the present ones; yet they are now all over. The grey clouds always move away and let the free sky welcome the swallows; and you see, we do not know who sends them, but here they are, the swallows have already arrived.