Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter in Bobbio

Forterocca was quiet long past the normal hour.  Or maybe I was sleeping very soundly.  I missed the departure of approximately 100 guests from Hawaii (I think), and the little band of our group that rose to greet the sunrise from a nearby mountain monument.  I lay in bed long past my normal hour too, enjoying the rest, the peace, the quiet.  Soon the elevator would begin its groan up and down the shaft adjacent to my room, the showers would begin, and church bells would peel--Easter morning in Bobbio! 

I open my door to find a few chocolate eggs waiting for me.  Those dear little heroes...

A last-minute worship time organized this morning for the students somehow escaped my notice...I came down for breakfast as everyone headed into our meeting room.  All the better to walk alone to the Waldensian church, I thought, and take in the beauty in solitude--a rare commodity these days.   The lambs were out, the dogwood in bloom, a stiff wind blowing, and a strong sun beautifying the colors and land.  I didn't want to miss Easter with the Waldensians--the weather was now warm enough to use the temple (rather than the tiny, overheated annex we've been gathering in).  And the chorale, which practices all year for Christmas and Easter, was reported to be stellar.  

Because of Easter, and the same phenomenon we experience in the States (those who turn out for Easter and Christmas, and not much in between), I was soon in a semi-procession--with scores of Bobbio folks emerging from their homes to walk to the church.  Inside, the congregation had swelled from its usual handful to well over 100. 

Women arrived in traditional dress, and I can only guess at how traditional--200 years or 1000?!  White caps, white shawls, some elaborately embroidered and fastened with different colored ribbons, over a long black dress, with an apron in front for a splash of color. 

Over the threshold, "Worship God, and serve him only..." welcomed us.  Inside, over an imposing

pulpit suspended high up the cavernous mini-cathedral, "Dio E Amor" was written.  As the pastor climbed up into that pulpit, I truly had the sense of stepping back in time--the preacher high above the rest of us, intoning a lengthy sermon, with a chorale singing as only a European chorale can, acoustics to die for, voices the only instruments, in perfect pitch. 

Communion: one approached the altar in groups of 3-4, where 3 (including the pastor) served the elements.  As each group took communion, the pastor gave a personal blessing (wish I knew what he had said to me!). 

I was far too visually stimulated to concentrate on understanding the sermon, although my Italian is progressing enough to get the gist usually.  I did get the announcement, however, of our group animating the service next Sunday!  Friendly, smiling nods all will truly be an event for all of us!  I wonder who's translating...

A walk back to the village square always includes a cappuccino now at Silvano's, the friendly owner of La Fontano Cafe, whose wife also attends the church, and whose daughter is an artist.  I am to meet some of our tribe there, and discuss dreams and visions of the future! 

On the way back to Forterocca, we run into the cutest little lamb and baby goat, who immediately capture about another 45 min. of our time, which is good.  Lunch is not for another hour, and although cappuccino has filled us up, we are eager for our various mountain walks in this gorgeous day.  The lamb and goat follow us home, making adorable baby animal noises, to the delight of the students lounging on the front lawn or terrace.   

My after-lunch walk took me up the mountain to a Waldensian monument, with a stunning overlook of the valley, duly sketched into my sketchbook.  A flock of sheep graze with their shepherd, who greets us, and we flop on the grass to take in the view.  An elderly lady from the town passes me by on the pathway and comments on the beauty of the day, and compliments me on my drawing.  A few minutes later, her husband, the retired Waldensian pastor goes by, a cluster of wildflowers in his hands.   

The rain clouds are approaching, with a cold wind, so we head back in time for dinner.  It's asimple meal, and eyelids are all droopy after long hikes around the mountains.  Several are still missing... 

Games are organized--my cue to disappear for the evening--another rare commodity.  Another chance to reflect, contemplate, read and write.  The history of the Waldensians continues to compel and inspire, and wonder again what exactly God has in store for this valley, and what part we play.  In the meantime, it's one foot in front of the other, on into Week 8 of the School, and whatever history we are walking into.   

1 comment:

  1. "...whatever history we are walking into." Maybe the most poignant line in this entire post... We are creating history with every step we take. I doubt the Waldensians thought they were creating "history" -- they were just trying to live each day as it came. Yet, WE look back and see the history they created, the shoulders we are now standing on, the truth they planted deep among the roots of the mountains there.

    Maybe it's a gift that God doesn't show us the future and the consequences (positive and negative) of our actions. I think we'd be too scared to move if we could see into the future, and lose track of the things right in front of our faces right now.