Good on them. Hare Krishnas strutting their stuff in potentially the most Catholic town outside of The Vatican City. Groups of people travelling together are rife in Assisi – there are more people following flags around than there will be at the AFL Grand Final next week. Young, old, walking, limping, wheeling, touring, riding, pilgrims, all on their own adventure and all with their own reason for being here.
Limited to exploring anything close to a seat today I visited one of the buildings in the Piazza that is named (wait for it)… Chiesa Di Santa Maria soprano Minerva Tempio Di Minerva. In short (or long) it is The Temple of Minerva circa 1st century BC that currently houses the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, built in 1539. The columns are the only original part of the 1st Century BC building that remain. It is one of those spaces you walk into and have to sit and soak in. Obviously as a tourist also snap a few photos.
Something moving happened while I was admiring the 17th century Baroque renovations of the Church that froze me to my seat. A lady fell onto the kneeler behind me sobbing. I couldn’t move. Her intention of being in that place at that time was so intense. I couldn’t turn, I certainly stopped taking photos and I felt somehow privileged to be there. When I could sneak a look I saw her husband (I presume) standing behind her with his hand on her shoulder. I’m not sure how much time passed. I imagined dozens of scenarios for this response as improbable as she had done her achilles like me to a true spiritual desire to reach this place. Eventually they both quietly left, tears mopped up and a knowing look toward each other.
It doesn’t really matter why they were there or what it was all about. It felt like an honour to be present. To me this lady was the epitome of a pilgrim when there are so many I’m meeting on “pilgrimages” who are essentially tourists (including myself). I like to think I’m a good person but as for spiritual the jury is still out. I haven’t quite defined what that means for me.
What I did observe was someone who wholeheartedly believes in something. That’s got to be a good thing. No instructions on what that needs to be – religion, football, nature, music – leave that up to you.
I’m sure the Hare Krishna crew are passing through on their way to somewhere special and totally believe in their quest. So again, good on them and what they believe in, although I don’t think they’ll do much good recruiting here.