I remember my first mystical momentum in a black and white photo. There is my sister, and I portrayed from behind. We face a small snow-white votive chapel wrapped up with our same sweaters made by the grandmother and very composed, with the feet a little out. Our ‘duckie’ prayers were indeed very tender, like us in that photo. I’d give anything right now to find it.
I want to tell you a little about my relationship with the Divine starting with this sweet remembrance.
My father was a proud anti-clerical; my mother too, but with not too many proclamations. When I was about seven years old, a friend of mine invited me to the sacristy near home to read the Apostles’ letters at Mass. I remember my mom saying: “Before undertaking this kind of holy initiative, it is the case to learn to read at least decently”. How to blame her?
The relatively few times that I went to church as a child at the holy feasts, I was constantly laughing when I was not overwhelmed by terrible thoughts about the saints and the whole celestial population. I felt like a monster to be excommunicated, struggling with that very mephitic inner voice that vas after me. Then, finally, I accomplished my First Communion, and I remember myself repeating diligently what the catechist nun had suggested: “In the churchyard, you will tell all your loved ones that it is the most beautiful day of your life, right?”
However, I was clever, and I seemed pretty at ease in the official photos.
I was happy above all for a gift: a photo album in fake mother of pearl – a super kitsch object that I would never, ever have dreamed of receiving in normal conditions – that, luckily, some aunt bought me. I was radiant for that gift with unlikely aesthetic canons, feeling really in seventh heaven!
Today my faith is full of beautiful colours. I honour a great Law in the Universe that shines within us all. I celebrate the differences and longings of every soul who sincerely seeks. I respect all religions and their original message; the rest are political designs and shadows of dark powers.
If I enter a church, I make the sign of the cross. If I enter a temple, I take off my shoes and offer incense.
When I was a child, I sang in Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion with the choir, moving every time I listened to it. Then when I grew up, always in choir, I sang some of the most beautiful arias of sacred music of all time. Mozart, Palestrina, Vivaldi, Pergolesi. In those moments, I was in contact with something immense through my voice.
I love the magnificence of the imposing Gothic cathedrals and, nevertheless, the simplicity of a prayer gathering in a friend’s house. I am delighted when I see a devotee kneel or lighting a candle or a shaman invoking the beauty of Mother Nature with the beat of her mighty drum. I feel the tremendous divine embrace when I am in the woods, and my intuition awakens to support those who have embarked on their journey of research with family constellations.
Some of my closest friends have a deep Christian faith. Others like me are Buddhists. Still, others are Muslim. We shared beautiful thoughts in the cool of a summer morning in the park, united in the desire to expand our movement for Kosen Rufu (the human revolution of each of us for a world of peace and brotherhood).
With others, we prayed, each in her way, putting our hands in the dough while preparing the Dolce di San Giovanni, the beautiful project of my friend Paola for renewal and rebirth.
With other sisters, we lived moments of serenity at the Hammam and then listened to the prayers of the Muezzin. To write my novel set in the Islamic world ‘Mechanical Heart’, I read and appreciated the verses of the Koran, which then inspired Faruk’s story and adventures.
I received Amma’s Darshan and danced in the benevolent rain of her handfuls of rose petals. While I was in India with my son a couple of years ago, we prayed in a Hindu temple and in front of a starling of seagulls that hovered in the clear air to greet and accompany the soul of his dying beloved father.
My brother in law is a Cistercian friar at the Convent of Lérins in France. Brother Cipriano took the vows and lives on a magnificent and lonely island off the coast of Cannes. In the silence of the paths and with the chants echoing in the ancient abbey, I prayed fervently together with the friars for the happiness of all of us.
So am I, and this is my inner world. I believe in the power of gestures and simple things. I don’t feel the need to belong or take sides. I am committed to honouring the Beautiful and the Just in every spiritual journey.
My ‘northern star’ is Nichiren Daishonin’s Hinayana Buddhism, which I embraced 26 years ago. It immediately fascinated me for his secular approach and the awareness that every experience, even the most painful, can become an excellent opportunity for value creation. And so, it has permeated my life. As a result, I immediately committed to chant, practice, and study with the Italian Buddhist Institute Soka Gakkai, achieving meaningful goals and encouraging many people.