Oh, where is the place where beauty will last?
When will I be safe?And where?
Thus starts “Pilgrim or Tourist,” a poem by Macrina Wiederkehr (posted on Poems on this blog poems). It speak to me because I continue to go back and forth considering whether my pilgrimage to Florence is over or whether I still need to go back and forth from home to Florence. This is what I know!
I know that my physical and emotional home is where I have lived for over forty years, where I am sitting right now in. It is safe, beautiful, and loving, and for that I am very grateful.
I know I am not a tourist, at least in the traditional sense, although those tourist elements are always present as I walk the streets, visit churches and museums, and drink cappuccino. I am pilgrim, slowly on the move, luggage light, learning to love the pilgrim in me.
I know that I long to go to a deep place in my soul and that Florence leads me there like no other place. However, the cottage-by-the-sea offered something similar, which leads me to ask what the two places have in common: Solitude for an extended period of time—four days at the cottage, fourteen in Florence. I go deep when I don’t have to negotiate, chatter or share experiences with anyone.
There’s much more to discover about Florence, some of which is being revealed to me. This surprises me because when I came home three weeks ago I thought my pilgrimages to Florence had come to an end. But no, I am being compelled to a deeper level, to be again in the silence, solitude and simplicity in that city, walking those streets, visiting those churches and museums, drinking another cappuccino.
I have an inexpensive ticket to Rome November 30th, returning December 14th. I’ve rented an apartment with a view of the Duomo. One of the secrets of an old woman is that she presses forward even when the odds tell her that the only safe place is home.