Gaeta, Italy 9/24
After a morning of some extensive walking for one who has neuropathy of the feet I find myself resting in bed contemplating the time to leave the hotel to experience the gastronomical festival held In Via Indipendenza called Vie di Gaeta. My mind is willing but my legs are hurting. I decide to go but a little bit later than originally planned.
When I start to prepare myself I encounter a setback; my hemorrhoid which has been pleasantly quiet decides to inject his opinion on the matter by proceeding to bleed.I guess someone doesn’t want me to go.Over time my mind tries to convince me to stay but my voice of reason presents the defense by introducing the stark fact that unless I want to eat in the hotel one still has to venture out to purchase something for supper.
The defense wins, aided by the fact that the bleeding has stopped. As an aid to my legs I decide to put on some support hose. Slowly I dress myself and lock passport and a few other valuables in the safe. I also take a little extra money just in case it is needed. My legs rebel saying, “Do we have to do this again?” I push on at a slow clip as I immediately face the challenge of getting by the hilly part of my walk which starts just a few steps from the Mirasole hotel. This is a real wake up call for my sore legs who are now pleading that I turn back. I keep trudging along until I now find myself on the other side of the incline. In the park I can see that many more people are out tonight than in previous nights since I’ve been here. As I reach the midpoint of the piazza I hear singing in the same area as the night before. This time my curiosity is peaked enough for me to meander over and look.
There is a crowd between 300 – 400 people, some seated in folding chairs others on the numerous steps leading to a school and many others standing. There is what appears to be an altar in front of an elongated camouflaged igloo shaped but. Right next to the altar are four or five men, four with guitars and another standing in front of a keyboard. They are providing the background music to someone dressed in a suit who is addressing the crowd much in the fashion of those televangelists that I’ve seen back home.He is praying to Jesus to help us to stop the division that’s in the world, in families among brothers and sisters. My thoughts immediately jump to my cousins and wish that they were here to hear this prayer. He is connecting with people in the crowd: some are raising their hands toward the sky, an elderly man holds on to a woman next to him as he wants to genuflect but cannot do it on his own, and a woman in front me proceeds to kneel on the pavement. At one point a scattered applause is heard in the crowd.
I was a little confused as to what I was witnessing. At first glance I thought it to be some Church of All Nation thing but I spotted what surely looked to me like two priests, one in the crowd and the other seated to the right of the musicians. I was holding my cell phone right near my stomach as I tried to capture some of this on film when all of a sudden I was told that I had run out of memory. As I tried to see if I could free up some space on the phone I lost track on what was going. I was disappointed that I couldn’t come up with a quick fix. I then tried using my camera but I couldn’t get it to record. When I was through fumbling with my gadgets I looked up and found that a priest had made his way in front of me.
With the musicians still providing the background music an instruction was heard for all to join hands in prayer. As I still tried to figure out if I was getting involved in something that I shouldn’t three or four people joined hands right in front of me. One man gave me a quick glance but never offered his hand so I just stood my ground getting ready to witness what was about to happen. Then the priest looked back and broke the chain that had been formed and gave me his hand while at the same time I joined hands with the man on my left.After the prayer the priest who had been sitting took a monstrance into the crowd to bless people. Reverence was demonstrated as many either bowed or went to their knees. Still not certain if this was a Catholic ceremony I decided to continue to my destination, Via Indipendenza.
Just a short walk away it seemed like a tale of two cities. I left what seemed to be a very spiritual gathering and was heading toward a spirituality of another type – one that is attached to worldly things. Why weren’t more people back there, I wondered.
Corso Cavour was hopping. Cars and other motorizedwere buzzing around like mosquitos. The whole town it seemed had taken to the streets. There seemed to be this subtle understanding that exists between pedestrians and drivers as they vied for that precious piece of real estate known as the street whose name originates from Late Latin strata via which means paved way. I follow the locals as they cross at a the crosswalk and soon find d myself at the beginning of Via Indipendenza.