Sunrise in Giglio Veroli

Sunrise in Giglio Veroli

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ode to Casa, Giglio, and Italy

Oh Giglio- quirky little commune di Veroli...

For 3 months now I have lived as a modern day king in this bella casa, commune, and Nation...

While there is much that I return to... and a few things that I will delight in leaving, it is with a deep sigh of regret that I prepare to depart. For when I return to my life in the fair city of subdued excitement, I will miss:

Morning walks with the dogs running and sun rising

Proscuitto and melon

Church bells ringing

Fresh buffalo Mozzarella and Caprese Salad

The Ubiquitous and stunning Renaissance Art

Friendly shop keepers at the International fruit market

The language of Dante that while largely unintelligible to me, it still sounds a bit like singing

Fresh Pecorino cheese

Enthusiastic amici greeting each other at church, bars, gyms, and all over town

A life that is slower

Afternoon Siestas

Homemade Pasta

Our little protestant church

Long Meals with up to 8 courses and way too much food

Vineyards, Orchards, Villas, and ancient Roman Cities atop the green, rolling hills

The stainless container on the counter filled with home-grown, home-pressed olive oil

Sheep in the yard every few weeks

Warm sun and soft winds

The 3 dogs

Homemade wine

The deep layers of history

The visible millenia of church history and life to learn from


Strong family communities

Stunning Churches

square pizza by the slice

Cities with Canals

Little fishing villages on the coast

An affordable and effective public transportation system

Our little gym with the ever present personal trainer

Real Italian food

So as I pack the backpacks, I raise a glass of homemade vino and say..

"Salute to our Casa amidst the olive trees

To our little village

and to this rich country that has been so hospitable to us all"


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Assisi- the city of St. Francis

We just took at 4 day trip into the hill towns to Umbria. This trip was a bit different because instead of the train, we were able to drive (a whole adventure in itself). We stayed on a huge cottage by itself in the midst of a vineyard- truly stunning. We were able to visit a very little town the first day, Civita, and then Assisi the next day, ending the final day on Orvieto. All were memorable and beautiful places, but Assisi had a special connection due to the man who grew up there, Saint Francis.

I have always loved the quote by Woody Allen from Hannah and her sisters, “If Jesus Christ were to return today and see everything being done in His name, He would never stop throwing up...” I am sure the same would be true of Saint Francis, in fact it was partly true even near the end of his life. This man was incredible- he changed a church, and the world, he hung out with the poor, he lived simply, he cared for creation, he loved Jesus and all people around him. Sadly, the city where he began his spiritual revolution is awash with tourism and tacky religious junk. Yet when you look past the human capacity to make a profit on anything- there is still something of the humble, simple man who stood the world on it’s ear.

Very quickly after Francis died, huge churches popped up to house the order and the pilgrims coming to visit. The church of St. Mary and the angels is built around the small humble church that Francis rebuilt (and the outer church is not humble at all as it is the 10th largest church in the world). The Basilica of St. Francis is full of some of the most ground breaking and stunning art, the final being 28 panels by Giotto of the saint’s life. But much has not changed. We saw the baptismal that Francis and Clare were baptized in, with the Christian eating lion in the front. We saw the humble St. Stephano where the bells miraculously rung the night Francis died. We even saw the blood drains from the Roman temple still underneath the church of Minerva.

Yet Francis’s blessing lives on in this beautiful city. The things he stood for, Jesus, peace, ecumenism, the created order, simplicity, they still shimmer around here and 8 centuries later, they are still needed... The story of his ministry begins when a young and confused Francis was praying to a crucifix (it is still there at St. Clare’s church in Assisi) and Jesus told him- Rebuild my church. 8 centuries later and he is still having an impact. Let us pray and hope for all who continue that work.

Here is a great message from Francis to chew on...

The Canticle Of The Sun

O most high, almighty, good Lord God, to Thee belong praise, glory, honor, and all blessing!

Praised be my Lord God with all His creatures, and specially our brother the sun, who brings us the day and who brings us the light; fair is he and shines with a very great splendor: O Lord he signifies to us Thee!

Praised be my Lord for our sister the moon, and for the stars, the which He has set clear and lovely in heaven.

Praised be my Lord for our brother the wind and for air and cloud, calms and all weather by the which Thou upholdest life in all creatures.

Praised be my Lord for our sister water, who is very serviceable unto us and humble and precious and clean.

Praised be my Lord for our brother fire, through whom Thou givest us light in the darkness; and he is bright and pleasant and very mighty and strong.

Praised be my Lord for our mother the earth, the which doth sustain us and keep us, and bringeth forth divers fruits and flowers of many colors, and grass.

Praised be my Lord for all those who pardon one another for His love’s sake, and who endure weakness and tribulation; blessed are they who peaceably shall endure, for Thou, O most Highest, shalt give them a crown.

Praised be my Lord for our sister, the death of the body, from which no man escapeth. Woe to him who dieth in mortal sin! Blessed are they who are found walking by the most holy will, for the second death shall have no power to do them harm.

Praise ye and bless the Lord, and give thanks unto Him and serve Him with great humility.

Amen Brother Francis- Amen...