Market Day. . .
Wednesday I wake up really early and catch the 7 o'clock bus down the mountain to do my shopping. How does one feed a family of six with no car and hauling one's groceries? The answer is my fabulous wheely cart I bought myself and also the generosity of neighbors. In the above photo is salad and squash and apricots and onions all courtesy of our neighbor's gardens. The cheese is from the bottega right here in Gravagna.
Anyway, today I had, added to my normal shopping agenda, going to confession. I woke up early and went over all my sins with the dictionary, always helpful preparation. Ben had told me that there was a bell you could ring at the Capuchin monastery right outside of Pontremoli and a friar would come down and here your confession. The monastery is up at the top of a hill and a road winds up to it. With my wheely bag jostling behind me I ascended the hill and rang the bell.
I expected an old friar to answer. Instead an middle aged woman came on the telecom, all efficiency and politeness, like a hotel clerk and told me to go wait in the church, a friar would be there shortly. I walked into the church and no sooner had I looked around than a friendly old Franciscan came in and, as if we were old friends meeting after many years, greeted me and had me sit in the pew with him for confession.
His words were simple. He treated me like I was a small child and he interrupted my confession several times to ask questions about me. It was like being with Christ. Afterward he showed me with great pride the display case they have with Padre Pio's habit, hair, and tear stained patten in it. We parted ways and I walked back down the hill feeling lighter in spirit.
There is a sort of arched retaining wall that runs alongside the road to the monastery and someone at some point planted roses in the arches. Now an invasive Asian plant crowds them out. Still the roses bloom. It occurred to me that in some respects the friars there are like those roses blooming happily amongst the weeds of post modern Europe.
As if to fulfill my metaphor several hours later outside of the discount store I saw my friar and another happily walking along the road with some friends. . . .