I started out this morning at 7 to find myself entering the side entrance of the Duomo. The guards were just opening up for 7:30 Mass and prayer and I was the first worshipper. I love the feeling of being alone in a church, just God and me. But this cathedral is never silent; today the banging of doors echoed throughout Brunelleschi’s dome.
I sat for a while looking at a little known painting of the Last Supper at the altar of the central apse before moving to the side chapel where Mass was starting. But no, I couldn’t get into it; I was distracted. So I left and started walking, which is the best way for me to be alone with God in Florence.That’s what I’ve been doing since I arrived.
Most of the time I am filled with gratitude, but when I get restless or sad about the dwindling possibilities that come with aging, I return to my commitment to pray through, with and by God’s spirit. A version of Thy will be done.
I’m wondering if this simple, pure prayer is what faith is all about, although even we church people don’t seem to get it until we are older. I call it The Old Person’s Secret, the secret being our longing to be at rest with God, void of thought, possessions, career, and even vocation or calling. We can’t do this when we are young because we have nothing from which to rest, such as family, friendships, careers, hobbies, creative endeavors, good works, and making a difference. The challenge is to build up positive experiences (that’s where church can support us), so our rest is just that, not escape from a unsatisfying life.
On this trip I notice I am indulging in fewer judgments about what’s going on around me (trash in the streets after Saturday night, loud tourists, etc.).Negative opinions don’t come up as often as they used to. The world keeps happening and instead of praying for things to be different, which as with all judgments implies that I know better (I don’t), I pray for peace and love to be present, and that God’s kingdom be felt and actualized. A version of Thy will be done.
This slideshow is from my visit to San Marco yesterday afternoon. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll recognize many of them, although on each visit I take the pictures anew.