Sunday, August 22, 2010

One Gelato at a Time

This may strike you as rationalization, but so be it. I cannot help but speak of what I have learned...

After surveying the city of L’Aquila in ruins, our team was in a somber mood. The city had become a museum, a tourist attraction. People were wandering through it as if they were in a cathedral, and speaking with hushed voices. Our translators shared what they were overhearing—memories of loved ones lost at a particular site, or where someone worked, now a pile of rubble; if the earthquake had hit during working hours…and the cafe that was destroyed--there was no way to find out where the patrons had been scattered to--if they were still alive.

The pastor brought us into a café to show us images of the aftermath. I was having flashbacks to New York, 9/11…the enormity of the destruction, the ash everywhere, the firemen as heroes…

And then, Pastor Gorgio proposed something outlandish: he suggested we get a gelato. Frankly, it was a jarring thought. Shouldn’t we be in sackcloth and ashes, mourning with those who mourned? Maybe, but…well…there would certainly be time for that. For now, it was a hot summer night, people were out for a stroll, and ice cream sounded good…how about eating gelato with those who eat gelato?! Grazie, Pastor Gorgio!

Suddenly, the mood lifted, as he steared us to the gelato stand (yes, Rosella's!). The team giggled at the weirdo flavors in the case, and asked for tastes. Soon the scoop was flying, and cups or cones were in everyone’s hands.

We passed a fence with poems posted on it. I penned a contribution later that night, which is below. It made its way into our exhibit, along with a few others, and I left instructions that they make their way to that poet’s fence after we left. In the midst of devastation, a gelato seemed the least likely thing to do, and yet it was exactly the thing to do—the most normal thing to do. Isn't this the way we humans survive? As I enjoyed my gelato, I realized Life would go on for L’Aquila, one gelato at a time!

(And for inquiring minds who want to know: my favorite is licorice!)

Buy a Gelato

Buy a gelato.
And tomorrow,
buy another—
try a new flavor.

And the day after that,
pick up a stone.
Buy a gelato,
and pick up a stone.

And the day after that,
dust off your shelf.
Buy a gelato,
dust off your shelf,
and pick up a stone.

And the day after that,
call your friend.
Eat some pizza,
drink a coffee,
pick up some trash,
and pick up a stone.
Buy a gelato,
and enjoy your friend.

Next week, call all your friends.
Eat more pizza, drink more coffee,
walk the streets, and pick up a stone.
Pick up more trash, buy a gelato,
and remember your home.

Pick up a stone, and rebuild a wall.
Buy a gelato, and rebuild your home.

Buy a gelato.

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