It might seem that I’m not sticking to my pilgrim-intentions, as I haven’t hiked another track of the Pilgrims path and it is already the third week of Lent. But I am, just differently. After all there are many ways to consciously walk through life. The past week I spend some time in Tuscany and had no idea how I would continue with my pilgrimage, but I knew I would.
That is what I like about life, the unpredictability. For many people it is the one thing they try to grip, to eradicate, they spend their lives controlling whatever upsets the present order. For me that is what makes life worth living. You can plan and design, prepare and organize and in the end it will always turn out differently, unexpectedly. And in fact, that is the only way to learn. Taking in the unsettling course of events that you cannot influence, accepting that life throws you into the deep end from time to time, bouncing back, moving on, getting the balance right and enjoying the view that comes with insight. So with an open mind I set off to explore Tuscany and came back with small moments in time that triggered the same emotions and revealed the same insights as on any pilgrimage.
On an early morning walk in the fields around Partingoli I saw the landscape and the people awake to the first light, realizing that it is not only on Easter morning but every day.
The smoke from a house slowly followed the contours of the hills, human presence blending in with the earthly shapes of an ancient landscape.
In Lucca we were treated to a heavenly concert. As the soft spring light streamed in through the high windows of the San Frediano church a visiting Canadian choir filled the old space with their clear voices.
On the second Sunday of Lent we attended the vesper in the Duomo di Firenze. A small group of people responding to old hymns; incense filling the small side chapel, a moment of silence and contemplation.
Outside we stepped back into a crowd of tourists. The unconnected feeling I sometimes have after Evensong in Utrecht didn’t really hit me and I wondered why. The contrast seemed less, was it just me, a tourist myself, passing by? Or was there simply no disconnection between the silent devotion in the church and the lively admiration of the spectators outside?
The most unexpected moment was on one of our last days in Tuscany. We decided on some small sightseeing in San Giminano. Feeling a bit unbalanced myself after days filled with new impressions and emotions, we quietly wandered around the fortified town. Amazed by the many towers that dominate the skyline we circled up to the highest point and ended up in a small garden. Artists were squatted on the daisy filled grass in between fruit trees. It was if I stepped through a mirror into another world. The clear sounds of a harp filled the air. Some teenagers hung around the view point, a young couple enjoyed an early lunch. Everything seemed totally balanced; it cleared the clouds in my head, took me back to an inner space where I felt grounded again in the one thing that matters, love.
It was only when we left that I noticed the sign of an old pilgrims route passing San Giminano. It never ceases to amaze me how unpredictable life is, how the universe works in unexpected ways, but always getting it right.