Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lodi, revisited

A homework assignment.  Tell a story, using all of the senses

An early wake up call, courtesy of the early arrived construction workers beneath my window.  The sun was not up yet.  I glanced at my cellphone, the only time piece I had in the entire apartment, and found it to be a few minutes after six.  A quick list of possibilities passed through my newly awakened consciousness and I sprung out of the comfort of the goose down duvet, my feet hitting the cool marble tiles of the floor, as I accepted the gift that had just been thrust upon me.

Into my clothes, no need for makeup, coat on, keys in hand, down the stairs and out onto the street.  No lights on in the other residences.  Made me wonder if the noise was unheard by anyone other than myself or if the others simply rolled over and returned to sleep, something I am unable to do, anytime, anywhere.
My feet touching the cobblestones were the only other sounds.  They carried me through the Piazza Comune, empty of all but the morning street cleaners.  Lights from the Bar Trovellesi reminded me that soon, the doors would be open, the singular most beautiful aroma of freshly brewed coffee, awaiting the early morning regulars.  On to Via Santa Chiara, shrouded in a thin layer of fog. Clip, clop, clip clop from the feet beneath my now fully awakened body.  Arrival at my final destination, the Basilica di Santa Chiara, fronted by an immense sweep of a terrace-like plaza.  Alone, in the darkness, I took pause to look over onto the valley below.  To listen for the early morning sounds, to smell the remnants of last night’s Umbrian fireplaces, a scent that I totally associate with time and place.

A tiny glimmer of light came from the transept above the door of the Oratori del Crocifisso, the peaceful little chapel adjoining the nave of the Basilica.  It signaled that preparations were under way and that it was okay to enter and ready myself for this morning’s Lodi.  The chapel is small and intimate.  It is not ornate yet it preserves the venerated crucifix that spoke to Saint Francis at San Damiano in the thirteenth century.  Dark wooden pews, with hard seats and un-padded kneelers, respond with squeaky sounds to the movement of my body as I find a prayer book and a place, joining the handful of others who gather to welcome the new day.

At exactly 6:45. A tiny bell rings, and a gate glides quietly as it opens on the side of the altar.  It is the only sound I can hear and it sends a little shiver up my spine.  Very soon after, I hear the voice of one of the sisters, calling her cloistered sisterhood to the start of prayer.  They remain behind the newly opened wall, totally out of view at all times.  And then, my heart stops beating for one moment, the first time I hear the start of morning song.  I am here, in this beautiful setting, my eyes fixed upon the crucifix hanging above the altar, listening to angels singing as they do every morning and have for centuries, welcoming the day, giving thanks for this moment, this perfect start to another perfect day. 

  A day that soon became more perfect when I stop at the Bar Trovellesi for my morning capuche.

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