It’s my last morning in Assisi. Soon I will depart and go on the next leg of my journey before returning home. I’m restless and nervous, for transitions and travel challenge me.
I came here as a pilgrim two weeks ago. I experienced this city as a pilgrim. Now I understand that I also leave as a pilgrim, for I am always on a journey of faith.
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and sojourners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul. -1 Peter 2:11
I can trust that God will take care of me and remain my trusty companion, for sure. For me, a certain worldly desire wages against God’s invitation to be a disciple who take leaps of faith: I long for a sense of certitude about where my life is turning. I realized this here in Assisi. This is one of many lessons that I will bring home to integrate.
Indeed, God has utilized my time on this holy ground to teach me lessons that I need to learn. Overall, my experience in Assisi has provided many graces.
To teach me these lessons, God has used many teaching tools. There’s the tools you might expect: liturgies, homilies, readings, lectures, silent prayer, meditation, religious art, tombs of saints, and churches.
God’s truth has been revealed in other ways too: through people, places, music and in random moments in caves, on mountain paths and busy streets.
In particular, God has spoken through the wisdom of other pilgrimage companions, all who are Franciscans. I’ll feature one:
David Hirt, OFM Cap.
Entered Religious Life: 2007
Solemn Vow Profession: 2013
Hometown: Terre Haute, IN
Current Ministry: Campus Minister and Spiritual Director at Mount Lawrence High School Seminary, Mt. Calvary, WI
My Question to Br. David: What have you learned about the messiness of Franciscan life during this pilgrimage?
Br. David’s Answer: Franciscan life is like any one of the old churches here in the Spoleto Valley. It’s old and rough and broken and beautiful, but built to show that one perfect sanctuary that is the reign of God. Franciscan life is the mix of ideals and the nitty-gritty reality of what you have to deal with in the world, and the ideal and reality don’t always meet.
Another teaching tool that God has utilized is the beauty of the scenery. It has frequently felt as if every direction I look gives me a picture worth contemplating. Many sights feel as if they are pictures right out of a European photo book or off a postcard. And, I get to be part of it! The beauty and God’s goodness has given much to ponder, much opportunity to do as St. Clare has instructed: gaze, consider, contemplate, and imitate.
Here is a photo from my time here that I offer for your own consideration and contemplation. What of Christ does this photo invite you to imitate?
As I journey onward, I am carrying some solid intentions and hopes about how I will integrate what God has taught me into my ordinary life.
Wisdom and beauty is propelling me into mystery blessed with trust. While I move, I pray that I shall imitate The Great Teacher and the lessons I’ve learned here in Assisi. Amen!