It was my third day in Assisi. After some grocery shopping and a relaxing lunch, I took the first of what would become my daily ritual strolls through parts of the town. My camera became an appendage, a growth that nestled nicely in the palm of my right hand, every ready for its sole purpose in life, documenting everything I saw and wondered about. I spent hours taking in sights and sounds during those weeks and my camera, my best friend, helped me focus in on the smallest of details while my brain took the bigger pictures.
On this particular afternoon, I walked all the way down the street of my little "home" and spent time exploring the neighborhood I was satisfied that I was getting my bearings and I started back. I reveled in the late afternoon's sunshine noticing that the wind started to pick up, ever so slightly. With the approach of the evening I spotted the lovely young nun as she made her exit from the "Casa Reposo" home for the aged. I imagined she was a nurse. Walking up the street, she clutched the edges of her sweater to brace against the chill and her short veil started to respond to the wind ever so slightly. I wondered how aware she was of my presence as I followed her. My camera was ready; waiting for the perfect time and place for what I imagined would become a lovely photo of Nun With Veil in Wind. It never happened. The alacrity in her step prevented it. This was a woman with intention. She was on a mission and I realized that it was not my mission any longer. The time was hers and hers alone.
As she rounded the bend in the quiet street, she came to an open space which provided a view of the valley below. She stopped for a few moments and gazed at the vista ahead, studying the setting sun. Was she in quiet contemplation? Was she praying? Or, was it much closer to the home of every one who has ever been a caretaker; an exhausted woman taking a break from the demanding work of elder care? Were her patients all infirm? Had she had it up to the tip of her veil with the task? Perhaps she simply had a moment inside that made her wonder why she was there in the first place. So young. Surrounded by so old, except for these moments, alone, with the wind catching her, sweeping her away to some place other than this one. Could thoughts to the roads not taken have entered her mind?
After a few moments to herself, Sister turned around and walked back to the door from which she had exited. Back to work. Back to the life she had chosen, the path she had selected. The one from which she had thought about running away just moments before the sunset.