The St. Benedict’s retreat pilgrimage to Italy with 18 from my home convent was wonderful, informative and spiritual, but also busy, active, complete and a bit frantically paced for this oldish nun. Discovering she was next to the oldest on this tour to hilltop monasteries, inaccessible for buses and with myriad staircases with and without handrails to allow the fresco and chapel viewing on various levels was illuminating! These locations were perfect for ancient monks seeking solitude but present challenges for 21st century pilgrims. Many hands were outstretched to help me for which I eagerly grasped, thinking several times maybe I would not have come had I known! One can be young at heart but the body is not always up to the physical reality. One leader commented that God is basically sneaky and I think I could quite agree! But…too much would have been lost. The end of the tour sent members in various directions, most returning home from Rome airport where this nun started her trek back to the Béguinage in Belgium.
I was tired oh so tired physically and mentally. As soon as I traveled the 8 regional stops to Roma Ostiense, the smaller of the Rome train terminals where regional trains depart, I simply sat down on a bench on the correct platform and prepared in great relief to sit and wait 4 hours. There was little activity except pigeons and trains coming and going. I settled in, salved by the palm trees and greenery on the hill adjacent to the station, happy for that and a view of the blue sky, clouds and sun. The ubiquitous pigeons visited my corner of the platform after each departing train, like the ducks at the Béguinage, they seem to know when the trains leave and the crumbs left behind make good hunting and there are no humans to shoo them away. I certainly did not! They were part of my landscape. I studied the greenery growing between the tracks. Some had gentle pale blue wild flowers despite the trains that rumbled over top of them. God’s creation/ the natural world in unexpected places strangely comforted and renewed me. The greenery was undisturbed, untended and uncultivated. I sat and waited musing on all I had seen and been blessed by on this St. Benedict pilgrimage.