Today I start on a new pilgrimage. It feels like I’m literally having to finish this St Francis pilgrimage and begin the Somaskanda pilgrimage. Such a big transition.
But, really, I bring St Francis with me. He spoke to me on a number of occasions over the past couple of weeks, and I had to change quite a lot to come to connect with him. Yesterday, in Assisi, I saw clearly that he will come with me, and that this inspiration of St Francis won’t just pass once I leave. He’s a teacher, who I think I will spend my lifetime understanding more and more, as I learn to become more a student of his.
Jenny and Liz, at Simonicchi, have been most exceptional of hosts. They provided an exchange so full that I felt I didn’t do near enough work for what I received (I stayed with them through HelpX, where you commit to offering a few hours work a day in exchange for board and lodgings). They base their lives around St Francis, and were offering such service for my pilgrimage that can only come about through the enigma of unconditional love through the divine.
At La Verna, above, I was seeking something. Seeking for a long time. Eventually, I came to the Sasso Spico, and found a place to rest. I meditated for quite some time, and I felt myself beginning to understand what was here.
A few days later, I was offered a trip to Assisi. Liz took me up to the Eremo delle Carceri – the hermitage – which I wouldn’t have got up to without her lift (it’s quite a walk from Assisi). In the hermitage, there is a cave of St Francis. In there, the stillness is incredible.
There was also one other cave, further down the gorge, which had a different energy but also one that I wanted to stay with. But we had to go – we didn’t have so much time for the visit.
Assisi… not an easy place to be, the energy is so very very high. But the tomb of St Francis, in the crypt of the great basilica, brought me to my knees for a long time. It’s a great goporum, emanating a reservoir of pranam for all pilgrims to receive grace and healing through.
Then, the Porziuncola down the hill – the tiny chapel inside the massive basilica – is a place beyond words or comprehension. Sat down on the floor in there, an energy of immense expecting. If you listen really really acutely, you hear St Francis teaching. And his teachings are straight from the divine – he is a divine messenger.
Now I’ve come to know St Francis a little, I sing Laudato Sii, o Mi Signore and everything feels right. St Francis is guiding my way to Somaskanda Ashram…… 🙏
I’ve had a funny thing with Jenny’s apples on this pilgrimage. Yesterday, I gave both apples I brought with me to Assisi to two beggars, who were both extremely grateful, and I could tell were receiving a lot of grace from the offering. Today, I threw the core of the apple I’ve eaten to the end of the little field and saw two animals moving. I went slightly closer, and noticed they are wild boar. The first wild boar I’ve ever encountered up close. And I realise – I’m being helped greatly in offering to nature.