Monday, July 2, 2012

Seriously Seeking Spiritual Food ... in Florence, Italy

Seriously Seeking Spiritual Food

June 20, 2012
My husband, John, was in a plane en route to America for emergency eye surgery.  It was 6:00 on Friday morning, and I was sitting in a cab in Florence, returning to my hotel from the airport,  preparing to teach 8 American women how to paint Italy in watercolors – eight lovely,  interesting women (each one with a story of their own),  who had spent a great deal of money to take a workshop and fly to Italy.  My heart was in one place; my body in another.

My anxiety level was through the roof; my husband and I have experienced enough drama in our lives during the past few years. This…. was too much.  Since the day I was conceived, my life has been one dramatic episode after another, and this latest jolt just exacerbated my feelings of belligerence and doubt towards the higher power.  What IS he or she thinking?  What kind of joke is this thing called my life to the omnipotent being?

How was I to find peace in this situation and prepare myself, body and soul, to teach these eight wonderful women, support my husband and still take care of myself in a good way?  In truth, my husband would be in the very capable hands of my adult son, David, and his surgeons, once he landed in Virginia.  My students had already assured me that they supported me.  I knew everything would be taken care of by the staff at San Fedele once we arrived.  So…..I decided to spend Friday trying to reconnect with the Omnipotent Being in the pursuit of personal peace.

I decided to spend the day getting lost in Florence, walking every step of it, and visiting every church I came across, so that I could light candles and pray for my husband’s recovery.  I’m not Catholic, and I’ve never lit a candle in a church before in my life…..but if ever there was a time for it, this was it!  I was in the process of “letting go….”  This was truly a situation where I had ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL.  Letting go and getting my head into a good place was absolutely necessary in order for me to perform the tasks ahead….

I guess there’s a church on every corner in Florence.  I walked just a few paces towards  the first church I saw, when….

a group of about 40 Italian men, all types, shapes and styles, in colorful regalia, spread themselves out along the steps and, following their wonderful conductor, burst into song.  I don’t know who this group was, but they appeared to be a professional men’s choir….and I enjoyed a free concert of Italian folk music and religious songs.  The masculine voices were…glorious.

After five songs, the men dispersed, seemingly to perform in their next location, and I entered the church to the sound of…..more music! 

There, in front of the altar, were a dozen nuns and priests, dressed in hooded white robes, chanting acapella.  It was beautiful …spiritual….strange…. and other worldly.  I sat there, spell bound by the intricate, woven patterns of monastic chant…..and there I remained for the entire service.

I was feeling very peaceful…and strange.  I left the chapel, and headed down the street, finding that I had walked in a giant circle around the city and there I was …. on the steps of the very church that I’d been in the day before, when John told me he needed to go to the hospital - immediately. 

I entered the church door and was jolted by a loud cacophony of full throttle, gloriously loud, fully loaded - organ music.  I was, once again, the recipient of a free concert, this time receiving the glory of Italian composers, performed in the woody tones of a centuries old cathedral sized organ.  It was marvelous.

At the end of this concert, I lit my final candle, feeling satiated and peaceful and ready to meet my challenges.  I could stop walking around Florence.  My head, and my heart, felt good.  I had made a sort of agreement with the omnipotent one. I would keep moving forward in this journey called life, and he/she would provide me with enough peace to continue….one…step….at…..a…..time.

I was seeking spiritual food and I found it, through three musical WORSHIP encounters.  I don’t know how or why these unexpected musical events happened, but I felt like they were planned just for me, and the music helped settle my head and spirit  and I found a little peace in Florence…..

Included in this blog are some photographs I took that day in Florence, Italy, June 8, 2012.  I hope this story brings YOU a little peace….

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