I’m mapless in Rome. Which for a tourist is like being nude. But for some reason, I always seem to end up everywhere I want to be. Like Visa. It makes me think that maybe there is a God. Of course, it’s difficult to be in Rome and not at least entertain the possibility that He still exists. I’m back to make a last report on yet another thing I saw in Rimini Fellini didn’t…
Sunday morning, I clawed and crawled my way up a ridiculously high hill near G’s cassa di caccia. (His beautifully renovated old farm house in the middle of nowhere.) I am in the lead, climbing through bushes covered with thorns, fording rivers (OK, streams) and only occasionally stopping to swear and see if we are any fucking closer to the ancient 9th century tower we’ve set out to explore. My feet weigh about 12 pounds each as the earth is wet and full of clay. That’s me. A woman with feet of clay. Anyway, we, finally, approach the summit. The panorama is stupendous. And there is a tiny stone Church with a door that seems to be open. I tiptoe inside–we all do–and head, quietly., towards the alter where there is a statue of a monk, kneeling in prayer. Hooded and draped in a heavy white cloak, the plaster shimmers like salt in the sun. The stillness, the silence, that surrounds him makes me almost reluctant to breathe. Just as we begin to whisper, the statue moves. We gasp. Then I see what must be an arm shift beneath the cloak. And a pair of Nikes on the floor next to the figure. We quickly turn around and go back outside. Shortly afterwards, a man emerges from the Church. Tanned with perfect white teeth, brown eyes, and chestnut hair, he is wearing blue jeans and a denim shirt. He smiles, beatifically.
I’m Oswaldo, he says to B. Welcome.
B’s mother, the Nonna, soon launches into an interrogation. Oswaldo is 38 year old, a priest born in a small town near Rimini. He moved into the tower in 2005 and has been there, alone, ever since. Every Friday at 6 am, a 78 year old monsignor from Rimini parks his car four miles away at the bottom of the hill and walks up with groceries, two paninis, and a bottle of water which they share before the monsignor leaves Oswaldo, once again, to his life of solitary mediation and prayer.
No wonder he smiles so beatifically, I said as we slid back down the hill. So would I. In fact, maybe this is where I’m meant to be. Alone on top of a hill with just God for company.