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My favorite time of day is sunset, when the sun sheds its warm rays through the trees and on the hills. It was at that time that I took the train. It was at that time a few days later that I met His gaze, and I understood that the journey had brought me to a reality far beyond just the final destination. I stepped on the train, thinking especially of what I was going to leave behind at home. The friends of a summer that was about to end, my world made of books, television, all the songs that made me feel free every time I closed the door of my room. I was sixteen. I even left at home the picture of the boy I was dating, for some reason I don’t know, for I used to carry this picture around as a security wherever I went. It was only later when I came back home and saw the picture there on my nightstand that it gave me the embarrassing sensation of something that is out of place.

But it was exactly that warm light of the evening that suggested to my heart that I could not live with the dreams of the past, for the day was going to end and tomorrow would be a new day. As the train ran through places I knew well, I began to experience the freedom of knowing I didn’t make a mistake in accepting that invitation. A week of spiritual exercises would have given me the enthusiasm to understand that the life I was planning was beautiful. It was like watching a movie and realizing that you missed the first part; I missed all the premises to know what was happening, and I couldn’t recognize that the protagonist was actually me. I couldn’t convince myself to be happy. As I looked around me, I was able to see many things that were making my life pleasant, but nothing that could really fulfill it. My sandcastle was collapsing and the water was flowing out; I was staring at it with the dismayed eyes of someone standing on the sand and realizing he is no longer satisfied with the phantom construction suspended between earth and sea. And it was exactly then that He walked onto that shore. “It was about four in the afternoon” (John 1:39). Suddenly I decided to run toward Him with my empty hands, leaving behind my collapsing sandcastle: “Lord, if you have any plan for my life, tell me. I’m ready to do anything.” In that evening light, I realized that I didn’t have anything to lose, that I could give Him my dreams, my worries, my bonds. The most beautiful surprise was in allowing that gaze to penetrate me and being certain of having found Love.

There, in the Eucharist, that I was facing as if for the first time, was Him who knew me, who died for all my sins and was giving Himself to me completely. There was the sweetness of His forgiveness and His desire to establish a new covenant with me for my happiness. Every ephemeral promise was disappearing in front of the certainty of His presence, which in the silence was crying out all His Love. I surrendered in front of Him, and for the first time I was invaded by the joy to respond Yes to Him. He, who was giving Himself completely in the Eucharist, who was giving everything, couldn’t but ask everything. It seemed to me that offering my life was too little, but it was everything that I possessed.

I met the community of the Apostles of the Interior Life one year after my first encounter with Him. It was a sign too good to understand that it was sent from Him—the sign of a beautiful life accomplished in joy, prayer, fraternal communion, and in the apostolate. After many mishaps among the thorns and the rocks, that seed finally found some good soil in my heart, and now it could not be wasted anymore. I knew God’s Love. Not even a tear or a wound of that Love He gave could be wasted, not even a word that came out of his mouth, not even a gesture of His tenderness that changed my heart and gave a meaning to my existence. I was much too happy to keep this happiness from others.

My favorite time of day is when the Lord still walks next to me. He stops there, He meets my gaze, and He changes my course out into the deep.