Ciao di Roma!
How is it that it takes me at least two days to quiet my mind and settle into silence, yet I can step right into the noisy, urban rythm within 24 hours... And yet, as I realized this past week, Silence is truly my native language.
I am in transition. I have often struggled with the process of coming out of silence, trying desperately to hold onto the experience of being on retreat. It seems that this is quite common and our retreat leader, Fr. Laurence Freeman, suggested that we simply accept and remain aware - without judgement - as we transition from being a Retreatant to a Pilgrim. By "pilgrim", he means someone who walks in the busy, noisy world, yet carries the fundamental message, and experience, of Silence & Love within them. This was helpful to me - I find that I'm being a little more forgiving of myself... integrating more gently.
But there is nothing gentle about Roma! What a busy, bustling & scorching place. Again, I am seeking refuge from the heat in one of the many Internet Points near our B&B. From what I hear, it's been quite hot in eastern Canada as well. So, if I'm gonna sweat, at least I'm doing it in Italia! :-) The hostess at B&B Giovy near the Termini station is wonderful! She has been running this family owned business for 18 years and absolutely LOVES it. She welcomed us with so much enthusiasm and caring, and two cold glasses of orange juice. What a great feeling after being on the move for over four-and-a-half hours!
This morning, we set out fairly early and walked to the Colloseum... On the way, we stopped at Chiesa S. Pietro in Vincoli, where they display the chains that were supposedly used on St. Peter when he was emprisoned in Rome. There is also a sculpture by Michelangelo called "Moses" that is supposedly well-known, although not by me. This church also had a couple of sculptures that boldly expressed the theme of "victory over death" with the depiction of skeletons and a great representation of the Grim Reaper. Although we've seen dead bodies (a.k.a. "relics"), we hadn't seen anything quite like that yet!
Afterwards, we sauntered & sweated our way through parts of the Fora Romana, in awe of these ruins that speak of another time. Since we only have a day here, we debated how much we'd try to fit in. One of the Italian women we met on retreat urged us not to do like the tourists who melt into the pavement in the midday sun. "Take a nice long sieste and come back out in the evening!" So, we decided to make our way back to the B&B by way of Trevi Fountain (and yes, we threw a coin!) and Il Gelato di San Crispino, reputed to make the best gelato in Italy! The chocolate meringue gelato was a gift from the heavens... :-)
Later this afternoon, we hope to take a bus to the Vatican. We won't be trying to get into any of the buildings; we just want to stroll in Piazza S. Pietro.
Tomorrow will be a very looooong day. We are aiming for a 5:52 a.m. train to the airport. We arrive in Montreal at noon, but our bodies will still believe that it's 6pm. Um, please don't expect too much from us on Monday evening, 'K?!
You'll notice that I haven't really said anything about the retreat at the Abbazia Monte Oliveto Maggiore. I'll be doing that in the days to come... Just know that it was truly a gift on my spiritual journey. I met meditators from around the world and now have offers of places to stay should I ever decide to travel to Germany, or Norway, or New Zealand, or Italy, or Manhattan! Remind me to tell you of my yoga sessions... a contemplative approach to yoga that encouraged us to read the body like a piece of sacred text. Amazing stuff that beautifully complemented the overall experience. Oh, and the food! And vino... molto vino!!
And so, the physical travel part of this pilgrimage is coming to a close. However, the spiritual journey continues... I'll post more on my retreat, as well as photos, in the days/weeks to come. Feel free to stop by again! Thanks for your good thoughts & prayers... We are truly blessed.
Pace e bene,