Assisi: October 23, 2008. My Birth Day!
I wake early in the dark and cleanse, look out as the light rises and walk around outside to see it raise the grain of the pink stone. In Vortella yesterday, we saw white marble, alabaster, and beautiful artworks formed. Here, the light is pink, like the marble, though now the clouds come in, and there is the softness of gray. I am 59 today. I turned 44 at Tengboche, a monastery at 13,000 feet in the mountains of Nepal. My friend woke me from my tent, and she and I entered the monastery and participated in a high level ceremony. Perhaps there is something about a birth day that seeks the spiritual. I am grateful that we endured every kind of traffic to get here.
I stand on the balcony. We share the light of the church. I go out and walk and realize we have spent every night but one inside the city gates, or next to them, as in Parma. We are at the Hotel Subasio. I read that Princess Giovanna di’ Savoia and King Boris of Bulgaria has their wedding reception here, while D’Annunzio and Eleonora Duse prayed and recited verses from their Hotel windows. This is clearly a place of prayer. Nuns and Franciscans stroll the streets.
St. Francis performed many miracles. The Course in Miracles says “A miracle is a change in perception.” Surely this light enters and influences all the cells within, changes perception, whispers peace. Can one enter here and leave unchanged?
We head out to further explore this town. It has quite a rise. We have now learned that the stairs are faster than the sweet little lifts, and since much is vertical, we are enjoying moving up and down. Nothing horizontal here, especially not the walls. Enjoy! Savor! Peace!!
We explore the tiny town, take the audio tour of the cathedrals and visit the museum, and the tomb of St. Francis. Sacred, sacred, spiritual might. We are enchanted with a book from 1170.
Oddly, on the audiotour, you are given a break to explore the gift shop. The proceeds go to benefit the poor but it is an odd disconnect to be encouraged to purchase, when St. Francis barely kept himself covered in one rough robe. The churches we enjoy are built by those who know how to promote. We need both, I suppose and, so again, it is a balancing within. I buy a book, The Life of St. Francis of Assisi and The Treatise of Miracles. I am surprised how the lives of the Buddha and St. Francis began the same, with wealth and repudiation.
We enjoy cappucino in the city square, honor the goddess Minerva, and head up to the Rocca Maggiore, the fortress part of the town. One wonders how this place could ever have been invaded and conquered and it has over and over again. We enter the Rocca Maggiore and climb. I had thought we could not have any more views, but now we look out and out and out. Oh, my!!
We find another special place for lunch - everything seems to be special in Italy and savor and enjoy.
We nap and then head out for nightly sustenance. Nothing opens early, so we drink so much water while waiting that I am full, so we buy a bottle of wine, some cheese and panini and return to the terrace and eat outside in the dark.
At 9:30, it would seem we are the only ones in the world, and then, from the church we hear voices, male voices, singing. The candle of my being is even more sweetly lit.
In each church I sit and ask that my purpose be revealed. "You are enough," is what I am told. Each of us enough, just now, this moment, so peacefully, easily, beautifully blessed.