"We are here on this planet only once and might as well get a feel for the place." -Annie Dillard

Friday, November 11, 2011


(October 25 & 26)

~The Canticle of the Sun~
Good Lord, all your creations praise to you!
Praise for Brother Sun, who brings the day. It's radiance reminds us of you!
Praise for Sister Moon and the stars, precious and beautiful
Praise for Brother Wind, and for the clouds and storms and rain that sustain us.
Praise for Sister Water. She is useful and nnumble, precious and pure.
Praise for Brother Fire who cheers us at night.
Praise for our sister, Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us.
~St. Francis of Assisi

I arrived to Assisi quite exhausted after a flight from Athens and then a train ride from Rome, so I just decided to go ahead and find the hostel and have some down time so I could be ready to explore Assisi the next day before catching the train back to Ponte San Giovanni to get picked up by Madeleine, host to my second Helpx site. Oh, and me being completely oblivious, I arrived to find out that I was missing the Pope coming to town by just one day!

Preparations for the Pope's visit, along with
several other religious leaders from
around the world, all gathering
here for a day to Pray for Peace.

And so the evening was spent in the quaint hostel. A large school group of boys from France were their with their priest (or something of the sort) teacher, and me and two other girls. French night! Dinner was done family style, and I was places with the guys who help do work around the hostel. Turns out one of them grew up right near where I lived in Belgium!

But now I jump to the next day, because I'm sorry to say that this post just has to be short. Assisi and me, well it was pouring down rain the entire day so I got to know whole lot about the inside of the churches! But something about this rain and mist was quite magical, and seemingly appropriate for this holy city. If you don't know anything about St. Francis of Assisi, you must read here! Basically, he renouncd his family and lived a life of simplicity, without excess, devoting his life to God. He and his followers founded the Franciscan monk order.

The Basilica of St. Francis,
shrouded in the mist

Oh yeah, it was Spanish monks of this order that founded missions in California that became three cities. Can you guess them? .... Oh all right, I will tell them to you: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Santa Clara. If you went and read about Francis, than I bet you can tell me why they were given these names. (Ha, how's that for getting out of writing down the history?!)

Anyway, I felt very comfortable in this little town. I spent a lot of time in the Basilica of St. Francis just sitting and reflecting, especially appealing when it was pouring outside. And as I was sitting, I felt this very strong longing for church. I realized I really missed going to church every Sunday, sitting with the congregation. And then, just as I was sitting there thinking this, this beautiful singing started up from the area of the church reserved for mass. And low and behold, this wonderful girls choir was practicing their music as they were the guest choir for the mass starting at 11:00! And so I plunked myself into the pew and stayed for mass. Mind you I had no idea what the Italian priest was saying, but it still felt good to be sitting there and to listen to the wonderful music. (on left: Basicalla of St. Francis in the mist)

Feeling refreshed, I headed out, just in time for it to clear up for about an hour, leaving me just the amount of time needed to do Rick Steves "Walk Around Assisi," admiring the quirky medieval town with it's winding streets, cobbled roads, and and stone houses. Not to mention all the other churches in town (and their are many!) including the one dedicated to St. Clara and the church were both her and Francis were baptized as children.

I really felt like I was in medieval times
with all the rain and mist!

One good thing about the rain was it
was finally cold enough for me to
have an excuse to order 'hot chocolate,' the Italian way.
Which literally is melted chocolate. A couple sips
and I couldn't do any more!
This experience firmly engrained in my brain the difference between "al" (without) and "con" (with). I should have said 'con latte' (with milk) instead of 'al latte' (without milk)

Outside the church of St. Clare....An interesting (disturbing!) statue
of a lion's head devouring some pour soul.....
Not sure the meaning here.....

And then, no sooner had I come than I had to leave to catch my train to head to Madeleine's. I had comtemplated staying an extra night because when would I get the opportunity to be in the same place as the Pope (besides the Vatican of course). But alas, I was TIRED. And ready to jump into another helpx opportunity.

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