The piazza in Assisi left a lasting impression on this reluctant pilgrim from the beginning. We walked from our pensione down the cobbled stone path that Francis walked to a town square that was alive with singing. It was a volley, young men in a grand stand above sang first, then young women in a cafe returned the song. The air was filled with possibility.
The moon appeared over the valley, and nestled in the pensione, I draped my arms on the window sill and listened to the beat of the drum. It ebbed and flowed as young men, filled with vibrancy, traced the ancient city streets. I imagined a world long ago, when innocently, Francis had the world at his feet, before war took his soul and twisted it, tamped it down. Something began to stir within me, too. The vibration of the drum beat lit my heart. How long had it been since I heard such power echo through a city?
They beat the drums as though their lives depended on it. The rhythm would begin slowly and build. Cheeks shook with each driving tamp of stick to drumhead. Eyes the color of purpose focused with intensity and innocence. If only, I thought, if only their lives could be captured in that moment and their purpose be as pure as it was on that day.
I didn't think traveling to Assisi with a Franciscan pilgrimage group would be that much of a challenge to this wizened woman. Afterall, I tutor theology. I've studied various religions and have mostly been faithful to Catholicism. So this journey felt easy. But I didn't expect to discover deeper roots to land, and Francis, and ultimately to find an affinity to St. Clare.
In the coming weeks, I will post insights and pictures from the trip. It's been two months since I left the Italian countryside, headed to Germany for a private adventure, and then returned to my home, changed.
I write because I struggle to accept the things I cannot change.