Yesterday was one of those days I’d mark with a star. A day when things came together and took on the shape of simple grace.
It began around 4:45 AM when I found myself entirely awake and serendipitously in a Skype call with a friend in California. Her day before was ending and my next day about to begin. We shared that in-between space for the better part of two hours…just chatting and telling stories and catching up.
I left the Villa Lante at about 8:30. The sky was a brilliant blue and the honey color of the buildings just bloomed. At that hour, everything is quiet in the Trastevere…quiet and fresh… though the memory from the night before is still at hand. The street sweepers have been through, but lemon and orange rinds as well as corks and cigar stubs still find their way in between the cobblestones. I am sure there is a law of nature about that–along the same lines as water finding its level regardless of the container. Vendors are beginning to roll up the metal grates in front of doors and windows and when you walk by, there is the lingering acrid pinch of bleach from where they have broomed the patch of stones in front of their shop. The people who are out then are out for reason, not for leisure, for they most part. Groceries, errands, espresso…. I love the time with people doing their daily whatnot rather than tourists clicking and snapping. It somehow seems closer to the ground, more real. The old men sitting on benches and making room for a third friend they called over from the other side of the street. The construction workers standing in front of the bar, holding saucers and sips of espresso before heading out for their job. The women with the wheeled grocery bags who walk a syncopated journey to the markets…these women with fixed, serious, faces and arms that become a living swim stroke of language when they meet.
I stopped for a cornetto and ate it while sitting on the edge of a stone planter. It was so delicious and so utterly simple. It flaked, it melted, and it had the slightest hint of orange in the glaze. Wondrous.
I made my way through several other blocks and eventually headed home. I practiced with someone who gave their Province presentation this afternoon. Poland. For this presentation I learned a whole host of words I’d never known how to say in Spanish before… ley marcial martial law; astillero shipyard; bolchevique Bolshevik… and others. Several words on my list were translated for me while having another long distance conversation filled with deep friendship, joy, and mutual understanding. By then I was hungry for lunch. Saturday is a free day, most of the time, so again I headed out. I went to a near by sandwich shop for a caprese sandwich and acqua with bubbles. Turns out that at that same shop were the two rscj in charge of probation. I sat with them and we ate our sandwiches. They invited me to walk with them as they ran errands…which meant first walking over to Vatican city and finding the Russian Icon shop. Oh, the beautiful things that are there. I just love some of the faces…so full of compassion and knowing. Knowing what it is to suffer and choosing love anyway. Knowing of hurt and choosing life. I find their faces of knowing and longing and love so very beautiful…
From there we took a bus to Via di Trastevere and had to find a place to buy chocolates that they needed as a thank you gift. We stopped into a chocolaterie/bakery and oh…glory. such beauty! Fruit tarts to rival the finest still life, Bits of artwork, each one. Each fluffy disk of meringue with a perfect swoop on top. Each cookie edged and aligned with a partner that helps to hold the different fillings. Fondente, lemon curd, pineapple…
Then we turned back to come home, which meant crossing back through the piazza with Santa Maria de Trastevere. While walking I caught sight of one of the most “well suited” couples that I have seen in a long time. It was such a fitting celebration of love. They radiated such peace and a deep, abiding joy…and I felt such an aching gratitude for the gift of having seen them, having witnessed their love, even if only through a glimpse and a walk by.
Then in the late afternoon there was the presentation on Poland which went well and was complete with dancing and a typical dessert that the sister had made. It was a sort of apple cake with meringue on top. Divine.
The probanists all went out to dinner while the two directors and I stayed home to share a simple supper. Sometimes simple is so very nice. Scrambled eggs with onion done to well-whisked perfection and toast. It was quite simple and just the thing and such good company.
I went to bed absolutely tired and absolutely filled with gratitude. Such a great combination.