Beauty In the Grit

March 5, 2020

I catch the 8:30 train. 

I see a friend I haven't seen in a long time as I board.  

Say a soft hello from behind her as we walk down the aisle to find seats. 

We sit across the aisle from each other. 

Do a quick catch up on life until our conversation invites us to move closer. 

Talk deeper.

We now sit side by side.

We stay together down the platform, through and up the station, until we part ways at the river. 

 

I walk with the public like ants who march toward their hill.

Rappin'. Singing. Construction. Taxi horns. 

Some ears plugged to the real sound of life.

 

I make a pit stop in Eataly because I want to inhale and digest Italy. 

Life is too short not to drink well, say the three Italian men to each other while passing by. 

 

Do What You Love says the sign above my head.

It knows.

 

I climb the steps of the museum, and soon I am standing before the reason why I came.

Art. Historical. Rare. Sacred. Light. Eternal. Inspiration. Reflection. Quiet. Solitude.

The Tiffany Windows of Eternal Light.

I meet a stained-glass window artist from southern Indiana. She is trembling, for she has traveled to Mecca.

Vibrant conversation with museum employees. 

I decide to join the museum. 

It feeds me.

 

Oh, how my mom would have loved the exhibit and this day in the city.

But she is with me. I feel her presence.

 

I walk past Pauline Books and Media. Do I see a nun behind the counter? I've passed this store several times and have never gone in. I turn around and enter the door. 

Is this affiliated with the one right outside the Duomo in Firenze? Of course! Says the sister. We are in some fifty countries.

Of course, you are, I thought smiling.

I saw a statue when I was in Florence exactly two years ago this week and didn't buy it. 

Today, I'm not here to purchase anything. 

Just looking. Taking everything in. 

A statue catches my eye.

A replica of an M. I. Hummel figurine, the sister tells me. 

 

My mom gave me her Hummel collection a while back.

I tell the sister I look at them every day, but I need to go home and look at them. 

The other woman in the store laughs at this statement.

We have been dancing around the store together, looking at Lenten inspiration, not getting into each other's way. I ask her how her Lent is going. She says, Just getting started. I love this answer. Is it never too late for anything? I hope so. 

 

Con Te Partiro sung by a choir of nuns flows through the store.

I start to cry because of my mom. This song, sung by Andrea Bocelli, is on the video of her life shown during her wake. 

I decide to buy the statue.

And also, the book the sister tells me will be useful to read any time of year.

Sold.

For a good cause.

I love supporting nuns. They balance out the drama of the world.

Joyful. Peaceful. Always.

 

I stroll through the pathway of the Wrigley building to Michigan Ave. There is something special about this spot for me. 

I pass the street-level entrance to the South Shore Line at Randolph and Michigan.

How many times I had entered and exited these stairs with my mom when I was young!

My parents. Together. Eternal. Life.

 

I pass a gemstone store.

Interesting.

I turn around and go in. 

One can find anything on the Magnificent Mile. 

One can discover everything on the Magnificent Mile. 

Music fills the store.

Birdsong.

They flit, and they flutter.

The store is full of birds, flying around the rainbow that fills the shelves. 

Seeds scatter the floor.

Birds feed. 

I've never seen such a thing. 

 

Table for one I request at the restaurant next door.

Of course, it's Italian.

Cozy.

A bar right next to the front door.

Bottles of everything.

A dining room with attentive servers.

Just like Italy. 

I live Italy, not dream of it. 

 

Lunch for one.

Soup, please, no wine.

Steaming ribolitta fills my soul before the first bite. 

I hear the voice of Italy at the next table.

Italian rolls off her tongue like the smooth flow of the Arno. 

A wine presentation is happening. 

Life is too short not to drink well.

I'll have a glass of Super Tuscan, please. 

My mom is with me in spirit. 

The life of my dad, too, in every man I meet today.

Generous. Friendly. Giving.

Every human being was his friend.

My angels. They are with me.

 

I ask the Italian if she has a vineyard.

She gives me her business card.

Now, I dream of visiting. 

I can see myself walking through the Tuscan hills.

 

Life is a gift to live. 

Fear will not inhabit my breath.

 

Life is too short to let dessert be uneaten and go stale.

The olive oil cake, please.

Enough for two.

I won't be hungry for dinner.

I have to meet my husband for a work dinner.

 

I have feasted on solitude.

My mom was never comfortable with solitude.

Opposites complement.

 

A blessing of a day.

The soul of this city.

In the people of this city.

Palpable. Alive. Life.

I must give back.

Freely. 

 

The man outside the window sits with blessings for each person that moves past. 

His eyes look downward. 

His heart lifts to the Heavens.

He has blessed me. 

I will uplift him too.

Beauty. Light. Soul. Heart. Life.

In this communion, the song of Springtime flows through the wind.

 

 

Dear Friend,

When my mind fills with chatter that ceases me to live, push me forward, and transform these thoughts with the knowledge that good does exist, and beauty is alive all around me. Give me the eyes to notice it. The heart to connect with it. The soul to be in communion with it. Thank you for the blessings of my life and the people and experiences You place in my path at just the right time. 

 

Until,

Marie

 

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