Over drinks with friends last night we commiserated. Jet-lag, no matter where you travel can be the worst. While I had flown east to west from Italy to Cincinnati a week ago, the others around the table had been on a yoga retreat to Bali. We tossed around our remedies for bleary-eyed returns to life, one woman pulling all sorts of little gifts from a bright, yellow purse, to pass around the table: anti-wrinkle masks, bracelets and other offerings that compliment the Buddhist traditions of generosity and intentions.
I left little gifts in Assisi, things I wouldn't need in the states: packets of coffee to ward off headaches because the pensione where we stayed served something like chicory in the morning. I left containers empty of liquids that I just didn't need any longer knowing that Italians are far more concerned with recycling than we Americans. I left a piece of my heart there as well. Four pilgrimage/retreats now, and Assisi slices away at my heart each time, taking only what it can and leaving the rest for me to bring home.
I've been passing out bars of soap to women friends. They all have the same reaction, putting the packaged bars to their noses, inhaling fragrances so pure and heady, and then holding them in a prayerful way, saying thank you. It's a little piece of the world that is even more precious to me now, with my study of Saint Clare of Assisi.
The soaps come from a store adjacent to the Porziuncula (pronounced: Por-tze-un-cula). This sacred place Saint Francis of Assisi returned to each time he went out to convince people of the gift of a child in a manger. It's also the place where he welcomed Clare on a dark night as she too left the city walls for a life of poverty, simplicity. Francis welcomed her as a brother, an equal.
Conversation ebbed and flowed last night, a co-mingling of voices escaped into a beautiful testament to our experiences. I've never been to Bali, but I plan to do so someday, perhaps with some of these people around our table last night. While geography of the experiences may be different, the facial expressions of soft memories reminds me that our world is much smaller than we want to believe. Jet-lag is a shared experience. The quest for something more is worth the journey, don't you think?
It's been suggested that I provide some writing prompts with my blog pieces. So to begin:
Clare could not stay with the brothers because she was the only woman among men. She dutifully obeyed the order to live out her life at a place called San Damiano, a place so precious to Saint Francis. While Clare slept in a tiny room, no bigger that some family rooms in American homes, a room she shared with 49 other women, she found ways to connect with the greater world. She wrote to popes, cardinals and other women in Europe who heard the same call to poverty and service to the poor. In your day-to-day life, how will you keep in tune with the external world while seeking the peace of some internal hermitage?