(Our moon is in it’s New Phase, 0% illumination.)
As someone who has embarked on two separate multi week, spiritual pilgrimages in Italy, both of which were focused on the lives of Saints Francis and Clare, it may have been obvious that some aspect of letting go would be involved. After all these two came from families which were very well off and both took extreme vows of poverty. At a minimum I thought my thinking would be challenged about letting go of physical possessions, which it was, but there was another aspect of letting go I hadn’t considered.
In my journey to Italy in the fall of 2015 the pilgrimage explored the Saints lives in Rome, Reiti Valley, and my beloved Assisi. After a week in Rome, I became very sick in Reiti. Being sick was not in my plans, it was not on my agenda! As we reached Assisi, where we were to remain for 2 ½ weeks, my heart was breaking. My only other experiences in the charmed, Umbrian, hillside town was during 2 different day trips with La Romita School of Art, located in Terni Italy, where my Aunt Charlotte taught art classes for many years. One of my lifelong dreams was to spend 3 full days in this hillside town to freely explore it’s rich history as well as to observe the medieval city waking in the morning and to participate in the picturesque display of the colors of sunset.
As I struggled to rest so I could help my body heal, my frustration and disappointment must have been evident to the group. While I was just strong enough to join in the daily excursions, I had no energy for any additional adventures of exploration or reflection. At one point one of the pilgrimage leaders, Father Murray Bodo, lovingly pulled me aside and suggested that perhaps God wanted me to have an inner pilgrimage this trip. My only reply at the time was that I hadn’t spent thousands of dollars to come to Italy for an inner pilgrimage when I could do that California for free!
What I didn’t understand then, and really didn’t began to fully grasp until this year, was the process of letting go of my expectations for the reality I was being faced with. As this year has shown me and many others, we can have our plans, hopes and dreams, but sometimes reality doesn’t move in alignment with the direction we want to go. What I have gained from the experience of my time in Italy back in 2015 has better helped me to face the challenges of 2020. While this year has not been one that any of us had expected, I think back to Fr. Bodo’s words and perhaps this year we were all meant to have an inner pilgrimage. In Rachael Marie Martin’s words “sometimes you have to let go of the picture of what you thought life would be like and learn to find joy in the story you are actually living.”
May you find strength and joy from your inner pilgrimage of 2020!