13 October, 2016
11:50 AM Basilica de San Francisco de Asís I would love the chance to be alone here. The ceiling and the walls are astounding. It is like being inside his story. All of the shapes, the art, the life! in story… Like a gold-edged family album from centuries ago. The Colors…the Blue! The longer I look the more I see. Trees and suns and heads…full scenes too–baptism, receiving the stigmata…it is one big fluid story that enfolds and incorporates those who sit in these pews and try to take it in. (I have moved so as not to be overtaken by a buzzing swarm of tourists). I love looking at all of these different things coming together. La confluencia de las texturas… the confluence of textures…artistic, temporal…all of it…
Reading Neruda in San Damiano has forever changed or at least enriched how I will understand his Versos. Somehow, reading That poetry in San Damiano…it became More. The passion and the justice, the struggle, the connection he makes with who he is writing for or to… it became divine. The passion was for God. The sensuality was about God. Francis knew that sort of love…and God has that love for creation as well. It was as though the Who of the poetry became even more beautiful in the union of real and mystical. The poems are full of memory and longing…it was a gift to read it in this environment and have it open before me, invite me inside in a new way.
And then, the humble deep peace of praying before the same crucifix that spoke to Francis in prayer. And to take time and bring to mind and heart those times when I have felt that level of intimacy with Jesus..when hearing becomes an act of the heart that blooms, flows, and sometimes trembles. It was a time to give great thanks.
14 October, 2016
…sometime after the singing of Office and now seated on the wall with my face to the sun…loving the sound of the wind and the fact that you can hear it before you feel it. It is so incredibly peaceful here, And it is a gift to share the silence with D, L, and Y…as well as with a man who also opted for this stillness when the rest of his group went onward into the woods. When the wind doesn’t blow, the silence is…primeval. As though it is the same silence that welcomed Francis and his companions. It is an old silence…the silence of God. And not so far removed, perhaps, from the Word of God. What a thing to consider…Que este silencio tan ruidoso sea la Palabra en su esencia… If silence is the fullness of sound so that we may listen–like light is the fullness of color so that we may see…then AUGH, what that says about the Word! The Word and all that is within it…AUGH…astounding.
15 October, 2016
Now seated in the town center…here with a large group of gum-cracking, mostly disinterested, German boys and their chaperones. The chaperones who seem to be organizing an espresso run among themselves, as one has broken away and is headed into a cafe. I was able to dry off enough of the bench to sit without feeling too damp. An older man with his seriously jowly dog just made use of my proffered soggy napkins and now occupying the other half of this bench. The bench is across from Santa Maria Supra Minerva– the church built upon an early temple to the goddess Minerva. The columns are original to the temple…And there is a large carillon as well…it just pealed on the quarter hour. Today the air is warm and moist…Hm, Caffe-Mok is delivering supplies to the shop next to the bench and Carlsberg Italia is bringing beer to the place across the square. Preparing the day’s bookends… A tourist group has set upon the more jowly of my companions…He seems rather used to it, actually, sitting for selfies. He looks like a bloodhound, a basset, and a lab rolled into one galumphing bit of canine. He is following the flow of traffic with his head, baaack and fooorrrth…and he is sitting on the feet of the older gentleman holding his leash. The man has just kept his quiet…staring off into a place he alone can see…I am glad they chose to sit here. I love the way the sun is coming into the piazza. Like the spread of a fresh clean sheet on the bed…and the smells…the light waft of sugar mixed with a tinge of cigarette and an underscore of earthy rain… it’s a great combination, oddly enough, when it all comes together. And, it was a gift to share this with the man and his dog, without saying much–or really, anything–beyond “grazie” for the napkins and looking at one another in the eye when he said “bouna giornata” when he and the four-legged got up to leave. Somehow, there was an understanding between us that we would each allow the other to be while “be-ing” together. Again, there is something to be said for intentionally created quiet intentionally shared.
Have just had the best 1 Euro macchiato and am now standing by the stone wall opposite Casa Papa Giovanni, watching the birds fly over this landscape; this mystical, holy, landscape. This is like no other place I have ever been in my life. It is saturated with peace. I could have spent these last hours here inside of a church I have not seen this trip or returning to pray before the crucifix in Santa Chiara, but I can’t bring myself to go inside when all of this glory is out here, laid out by a passionately imaginative God…a God of Love who delights in beauty…God for whom creation IS beauty, in all of its textures, patterns, colors, that come together in a free-hand harmony that draws me in to my center and at the same time calls me forth in a great gasp of awe. The breeze has turned cool, the earth is a dark, beautiful, brown; the roof tiles present a muted patchwork of earth-toned half-pots. The leaves and pine boughs are shot through with threads of spun birdsong and sunlight. The stone building sides have become canvases for shadows that duck and soar on currents of unseen mystery. Thank you for this time. Thank you for this place. Thank you for the passion and vision of Francis, for his Yes. And thank you for calling me. You have my Yes, forever and always. You are my light, my strength, and my salvation.