From Top to Bottom

By August 24, 20142014, Europe

Along the trip there were not a lot of opportunities to spend time alone. When you’re camping with thirty other people there are not many places to hide. Because of this constant group immersion, a little ‘me time’ can go a long way. This is why I chose to fly solo during our day in Assisi, which also happened to be my birthday. We spent the first part of the day in San Damiano, which is the church that St. Francis repaired and lived in for some time, now serving as a monastery for Franciscan monks. After a liturgy and some quiet reflection on the hillside, I felt primed and ready for a day of introspection. I took off on my own and walked up one of many large hills in the city. Something about the human condition seems to drive us to high ground. I often feel this incessant need to reach the highest peak or tallest building, and so I continued on streets that would lead me further up. Eventually I reached a fortress that I had seen from the streets below. I stood there amidst the birds looking down on miles of Italian countryside.
From there I meandered back down to the city and found a trail that took me lower still through many switchbacks and hills that would lead me to the fields that I had previously seen from the fortress in the sky. The end of the trail brought me to a small chapel beside a river. This was not a place to cross off a list of tourist destinations, I’m not even certain it had a name. I entered the humble church on that Pentecost Sunday and sat in one of the pews. I was the only person there, but I did not feel lonely. In that small building I took a break from the world, and was allowed to simply be.

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