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Julio Savi

Among the pine trees of Villa Borghese. A brief memory of Augusto Robiati by Julio Savi.

Although we lived in the same city, I only got to know Augusto Robiati and his family when they started to attend the Bahà'ì community in Asmara. Previously the difference in age in respect to the Robiati couple and attending different schools to those attended by their children, I had never had the occasion to meet them. And when the family joined the Bahà'ì Faith, my interest was above all for the children, young like me, for whom I immediately felt an affection that lasts today. Moreover Augusto accepted the Faith in September 1959 and I left for Italy in 1960. In that brief period, even though I often met him and appreciated his qualities, I did not however have the way or the time to get to know him better. Afterwards, when the Robiati family 'came home', we lived in different cities and the chances of meeting were occasional.
My interest and friendship with Augusto began to grow only much later, when I was elected to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahà'ìs of Italy, whose member he had been a for many years. I worked together with him in that institution until 1988, the year in which he retired. The Bahà'ì administrative work is an important factor of intimacy among the persons and often creates among the believers a strong bond that lasts a lifetime. For me Augusto was immediately an important figure of reference, for his straightforwardness and sensitivity, creativity and resourcefulness, courage and enthusiasm and, above all, great transparency, qualities which he demonstrated during the long sessions of consulting on affairs of the Bahà'ì national community.
But I don't believe that, if our relationship had been limited to only working hours, this deep feeling would have developed in me that created a bond between us for the rest of our lives. The sessions of the Assembly took place in Rome once a month and lasted from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon. Early Sunday morning Augusto would go alone to walk in Villa Borghese and I asked permission to go with him. He happily accepted. And so, every month, he would wake me exactly at six o'clock on Sunday morning to go for a two hour walk. It was then that my friendship towards him had a way to strengthen.
I don't know why Augusto made me his confidant and allowed me to participate in many private and delicate aspects of his life - to have my advice, he said. This trust, which I knew to be totally unmerited and which greatly surprised me, created a bond between myself and him. I have always welcomed the confidences that I have had the privilege of receiving from some persons as a very precious gift, the gift of that mysterious universe that is the human heart. And my cautious excursion into the heart of Augusto made me discover the great affinity that bound us above the many obvious differences, and that, perhaps, was the reason why I was chosen by him as friend and confidant. These were confirmed also by the affection that already bound me to him and all of his family. I do not know what he gained from those intense morning conversations among the pine trees of Villa Borghese, but I well know the noble lesson I learned. Obviously I too, slowly opened up to him. And so these brief monthly meetings became a source of encouragement and inspiration for the small and great battles of daily life and became a definite part of my interior being, fruitful moments of truth and sincerity, peace and serenity, sweetness and friendship.
When Augusto finally left the National Assembly I missed him terribly.
Such bonds are unrepeatable and irreplaceable. Over the following years we phoned each other, we sometimes met but the spell cast by those Roman misty mornings was not repeated. About ten years later, we met on the shores of the Adriatic on a winter morning and Augusto, older then, asked me to accompany him for a walk through the pine trees along the seafront of Riccione. On that morning he told me about his illness and, even though he minimized the fact, I had no difficulty in understanding the entity. But I remembered well the words of love for the spirit that Augusto had said to me and, in particular, I remembered his description of his own prayers, a truly sweet conversation with God. And that knowledge helped me to suffer less for the announcement that meant the imminent loss of a friend and, for him, the entrance to a spiritual world that he loved so much, where he would be able to continue, undisturbed by awkward distractions, that intimate conversation with God that made him so happy.
I didn't meet Augusto again but every time I think of him I cannot but remember, with feelings of expectations and hope, these words of Abdu'l-Bahà:
" Know for certain that in the divine worlds, they who love spiritually will recognize one another yearning to unite one to the other, but in a spiritual union. Similarly the love that one person holds for anybody will not be forgotten in the Kingdom of God, as will not be forgotten the life that was lead on earth. (Abdu'l-Bahà, Tablet of Abdul- Baha Abbas 1 (Bahà'ì Publishing Society, New York 1909): 205). Bologna, 9th March 2003.

Biographical notes
Julio Savi, gynaecologist, practises in the province of Bologna. He carries out studies on religion, spirituality and theological, mystic and philosophical aspects of the Bahà'ì scriptures and on these themes he has lectured in Europe, North America, Africa and Asia. He is a member of the Faculty of the International University of Landegg (Switzerland). He is part of a team that holds a course of Economy for a new world order at the University of Bari. Among his works there are Bahìyyih Khànum, Ancella di Bahà (Rome 1983), Nell'universo sulle tracce di Dio. Un'introduzione alla filosofia divina di Abdu'l-Bahà (Recco 1988), published also in English with the title 'The Eternal Quest for God'. An introduction to the divine philosophy of Abdu'l-Bahà (Oxford 1989), Per un solo Dio, Appunti di filosofia della religione (Rome 2000), Lontananza. Poesie (Rome 2001), published in 2002 also in an English version,. Remoteness Selected Poems, and numerous articles in various international magazines such as World Order (Wilmette, Illinois) and The Journal of Bahà'ì Studies (Ottawa, Canada).