Sunday, June 05, 2005

Reflections on Italy - note from my May Retreat journal

What am I about at this point? I probably just need to find a quiet place to pray for awhile. We went to Santa Chiara this morning and I was moved to tears very quickly. “Create in me a new heart, and renew a right spirit within me” came to mind. Heart and Spirit: what does that mean today? Time to shut down, I think - the computer, that is - and go and pray.

I usually find retreats tough to get into and well worth the trouble. This is all reminding me of days doing retreats at Mt Calvary Retreat HOuse in Santa Barbara in the 70s and 80s, which is awhile back. 25 years since I started seminary. I’ve been doing some catholic reading: Cunningham’s book on Francis, then June Singer’s book on Jungian therapy, which I started and put down 25 years ago. Now reading a book by Richard Rohr on contemplative prayer, which is just what I need.But let’s go deeper.

Something is happening here. I am in a bit of a persona, feeling tired, fearful, angry. Part of that is my back is still sore, though that is getting better. But there is something very holy here, it hits me walking into the churches as well as along the streets. My dreams are going weird, and it is as if I am making some wide turn in my life journey. I don’t think I am going to get a revelation, but I feel like my understanding of life might get deeper.

I thought of some lines for a poem earlier.

This city is built on Roman ruins, Franciscan foundations, blood and war, hope,
Tourism, Eurodollars, major UN grants, and prayer.
The streets are noisy with commerce and eloquent in silence.
You walk with saints, soldiers, entrepreneurs and pilgrims over millennia,
Music comes and goes, and children and bells run through the streets without reason.
The stones witness it all and still endure, seem soft as flesh,
As if they could meet your touch and respond to your hand.

The stone façade of the church of Santa Chiara is pink and blue
Like the inside of God’s mouth; cradling prayer for awhile
Till it spills like wine into the plaza outside and falls into everyone’s open mouth;
With the fresh air of the morning and flecks from old portraits and icons,
Garlic from the nearby café and exhaust from a German bus that just went by.
All settle on your head like a bright scarf gifted you by a passing stranger
Who kisses you on both cheeks, then goes on her way, laughing.

Reading this several weeks later, and now back in Melbourne and past jet lag, it is almost like it happened to someone else. But it is in my heart, deeper than my mind, not easily usable - if that makes sense - but there, waiting in its own time, to make its way known.

2 comments:

Julianne said...

Quote: \Reading this several weeks later, and now back in Melbourne and past jet lag, it is almost like it happened to someone else. But it is in my heart, deeper than my mind, not easily usable - if that makes sense - but there, waiting in its own time, to make its way known.
Unquote.
Robert, this is why it's so important to keep a journal, isn't it, and be faithful to it when the time comes to transpose it - don't change it, just keep the words as they were when you felt them.

Robert Whalley said...

Thanks, Julianne, for your note. I did need to remember this today, and there was a friend to remind me of what I already knew! That's yet another reason for community.