I'm not sure if this blog entry will make it to the "publish" stage, but since you are reading this, I must have clicked the button to go live! The reason I'm not sure I will put this out there is because I'm not really sure I can clearly express what's on my mind. Well, here goes.
The schedule for our program begins each day at 7:15am with Mass and ends with dinner starting at 7:30pm and then most people socialize for an hour or so after dinner. That's a very comfortable schedule for me with one big exception - lunch. Here in Rome we get a two hour lunch break. Yup, two hours, two hours! I think the idea is that you eat your lunch then take a rest, although I'm not really sure because everybody seems to disappear after we eat then reappear for our next session. Go figure.
Today I decided to take advantage of this two hour deal and I hopped on the subway/train and went to St. Peter's Square at the Vatican! This was my very first time being at the Vatican. My official guided tour of the Vatican Museums, St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel is this Saturday, but I just wanted to get out there today and take in the experience.
So there I was standing in the middle of St. Peter's Square, surrounded by who knows how many people and I felt.....well, alone. It wasn't an intense, desperate kind of "alone", it was more just an acknowledgment of the fact that I came by myself, just me....alone.
Just standing in Peter's Square, at the Vatican, where so many significant events occurred in the history of both Rome and the Roman Catholic Church, was powerful. My mind thought about having watched CNN live on TV from St. Peter's Square when Pope Francis was elected. I also thought about how this was the place where the Second Vatican Council was held....and the place where Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel....and the place where presumably St Peter is buried - my head was spinning. I just stood there, trying to take it all in.
So back to feeling alone - here's my deal. For the most part, significant experiences in my adult life have always been shared with my husband. Maybe not always right in the moment, but always right there shortly after to "debrief" and have long face-to-face conversations about a significant (or sometimes insignificant) experience. What does it mean, why is it important you, what did you first think, did your thinking change....you know, those kinds of conversations. I'll call him later tonight on WhatsApp and he will ask me all those things and listen intently and lovingly, I have no doubt. But what I was reminded about today is how God created us to be social beings - he created us to be in relationship. Loving, attentive, compassionate and authentic relationship. We crave that as human beings. I am blessed to have a marriage relationship that is life giving and reflects the love that God has for us.
While not everyone is called to marriage, God does call everyone to be in relationship, to be in community, to be connected to others in love and compassion. We talked about this today in our sessions. We talked about how the Lasallian vocation is one of connection and community, a vocation that calls us to work together, to share our lives and to ultimately carry out the Gospel message to love one another, especially in educating young people.
Even though today I was "alone", I'm ok. In fact, better than ok. In a few minutes I'm heading down to evening prayer with friends from all over the world, then to a wonderful Italian dinner provided by the staff at the Generalate and yes, followed by my WhatApp call to my husband - so, yes, much better than just ok!