Actually September feels like the real turn of the year, the true start of a new year.
August is gone.
The long pause lets you make the point of the situation, it helps you understand where you are at and what you want to begin or continue doing: it won’t help much as I believe that all our attempts of organizing and channeling things are a pure illusion. It always happens what has to happen…
The mediterranean sea, which I often snob when I am traveling for my work, has been rich and generous during the holidays.
A lot of beautiful and fun moments.
And seeing that some things always happen when we least expect them, I had an encounter in August which I would like to tell also because I wish it stays precise in my memory:
Coming back from the amalfi coast by car, at the autogrill in caserta I see two friars hitchhiking. Particularly one was so perfect in his friar outfit he looked fake. He even had the cleric.
There and there I was opting for a charitable gesture, but I was afraid of taking one in the ass.
I reversed, I ask the Neapolitan fuel attendant what he thought of the two friars.
“doc, they are god, they are good…” he assures me.
I stop in front of them. “peace & good will brother! We are going to lourdes, take us where you wish and where you will”. And like that also a nun popped from behind them.
The two friars and the nun where traveling to lourdes.
I get them in my car, and they start telling their story.
They travel with nothing, only a toothbrush. No money, which they are not even allowed to touch. They base themselves on the kindness and good will of the people.
Kindness and good will which in this case betrayed them enough: it was more than four hours that they were under the mid August sun of caserta…
We start talking, I play them De Andrè, I can say that we start a pleasant friendship. I make it clear that I am not religious at all.
This though stimulated them more towards the redemption of the lost sheep. What definitely happened is that we started religious philosophical discussions: where do we come from, where are we going, god exists, doesn’t exist, god created us, we created god… and so on traveling and philosophizing…
The three of them where on their way to lourdes, they where happy to get to rome. I take the rome turn-off. They make a few calls (with my cellphone, obviously they don’t have one…) to their religious roman friends but they don’t find one that can give them hospitality, they are all on holiday!
Can you believe the priests in rome! On holiday!
So I get back on the highway, I decide to take them to milan.
Towards sunset they take out their bibles and they start praying declaiming the vesper psalms.
In short a strange car, a fashion photographer, with two priests and a nun that are praying. And on the radio Fabrizio De Andrè singing “his name was jesus”. Luckily I am no believer nor catholic, if I was I would have at least restarted the crusades…
We arrive, between psalms and prayers, in milan.
The problem now was to find a place to sleep for the friars.
First thing I went to the friars near my house, in viale piave.
Ring the bell.
Peace and good will here, peace and good will there.
At the end, the friars in viale piave in milan what do they say to the friars on a pilgrim to lourdes? Lonely tired and hungry? In the hands of a non believer such as myself? What do they tell them?!?
To go away and that it was their own damn problem. Obviously this was my own colorful and negative interpretation, but the substance was that, no hospitality.
Do you get all this!
The priests in rome are on holiday.
The friars in milan don’t give a damn.
We are doing well…
We start going round and round milan in the middle of August, deserted, at midnight, to all the franciscan convents to look for hospitality.
Finally we find a night shelter, cared by franciscan friars, behind the monumental cemetery.
Perfect, have we found a place for our friends?
Almost, there is a place for the two friars but not for the nun, they can’t accommodate women.
We leave the two friars, we only need to arrange for the nun.
We go round and round but we can’t find anything for the nun.
What do we do?
The nun comes to sleep over at my house.
Obviously I wasn’t alone.
So the nun comes over to my house to sleep on the floor.
Yes, the franciscan nun rigorously sleeps on the floor.
I swear this is all true.
It was a strange night of mid August in milan. Sleeping in my bed knowing there was a little nun next door sleeping on the floor…
The day after we reconnect with the friars and they are all happy and merry, and, after a triumphant “peace & good will”, I sent them straight towards lourdes…
Peace & good will and a happy new year!