Everywhere we went conversations started with "Allora." After thirteen days, many of us mimicked our Italian counterparts. So, (or 'Allora') it's no surprise that the word should bring a smile. It's a connecting word like then or well.
Countless connections stay with me this morning as I slip back into the routine of life. Images swim in my head of smiles, toasts, and candlelit dinners with the pilgrims. Fourteen days seems like a lifetime ago, when we all stepped off planes, bleary-eyed and wondering how we might fit in the group. Now, I can't imagine what it would be like without having known every one of them.
To add increase in the lives of others, this was my goal. And at first, this is what I felt my job to be. But, as each day passed and each new experience provided new words, new concepts, new thoughts, I began to see that I am the one whose life has been increased.
It's the first time in our work that I led writing circles on our pilgrimages. We did't know how it would go. But as I think back to the energy of writing together under the shadow of Saint Peter's Basilica, or in the garden of our pensione (small hotel) in Assisi, or in a monastery in Tuscany, I am struck by our collective experience.
Whether the group was small or large, we wrote to writing prompts and shared our work. Some of it wasn't written but spoken. No less powerful though.
Each of us has a story to tell. It might be about golf. Maybe it's an immigrant's story. Perhaps it is about a woman's struggle to find her way in a man's religion. no matter the subject, the story seems to delve into the depth of who we are. Whatever the case, the relationships become real and deep and long lasting.
My life has been enriched by the words from my fellow pilgrims. This is the fourth pilgrimage I've been privileged to help lead and I hope, not my last, because I know that looking in the eyes of the people I have met reminds me that we are so much more alike than we are different.
So, (or Allora), Ciao.