DAY TRIPPPIN! Now, the real sweating begins…
Today, we took a nice 2 hour bus ride to the beautiful city of Assisi. Not gonna lie, till today I had never even heard of Assisi. I was thoroughly surprised and impressed by the town’s art, architecture and atmosphere. The city is very quaint and has a homey feel to it with it’s rustic buildings and daily hum of people chatting on the streets or sharing a meal at a cafe.
When we arrived, everyone immediately bolted out of the bus and to the nearest restroom. No surprise there! Two and half hours on a bus will do that to ya. Those who were ready stretched their stiff limbs and patiently waited to begin the day’s ventures. When everyone had gathered around, Professor Ducleaux set the pace for the day and headed toward the Basilica of Saint Francis. Not only was I amazed by the giant, brilliantly white building, but I was also surprised at the amount of fully armed and ready Italian officers there to check our pockets and purses before entering. I remember whispering to Rhett, “They all look the exact same..”. I have yet to see an Italian officer that isn’t at least 6 feet tall with a buzz cut, facial hair and an intimidating stare.
After passing through security, Professor Ducleaux handed us ear pieces and began to tell us about the history of the building we were about to enter. However, with Professor Ducleaux it is more like he is weaving stories together and connecting dots as he fills our heads with new information. I have found listening to our professor lecture a much more enjoyable experience than reading The Italians (sorry John Hooper ¯\_(ツ)_/¯).
Professor Duclaux describes the life of Saint Franics and draws a parallel between his life and the life of Jesus Christ. The pivotal moment of Saint Francis’s life was when an angel appeared to him and gave his life purpose, telling him he must rebuild the church. He went through a process of conversion and spent monumental time in prayer. He dressed as a poor man and decided to do all he could to give to those in need, even if that meant he had to steal from his father to do so. When we entered the Basilica, there was artwork all along the walls that gave a person a visual of the legend of Saint Francis.
As Professor Duclaux began to describe the aspects of Franciscan art, to draw emotion and connectivity to its observer, I began to view the paintings in a more life-like way. The artist painted the story in a way where you feel as if you can relate to Saint Francis during some point in his life, whether it’s when his father rejected him or when his spiritual transformation begins. You can see the emotion in the eyes of those pictured and it gives you a bit more clarity in understanding the gravity of his decision to completely alter his lifestyle.
Saint Francis did not live a selfish life, but he lived one of sacrifice, generosity, kindness and love. I found lecture very moving and a reminder that I am here for a purpose, to serve others and show them Christ’s love through my actions rather than words. I truly believe that the best kind of leader is a servant leader, and Saint Francis was just that. Today made me realize that I need to be more aware of the lives of those around me and I need to look for ways to bless others. Saint Francis did not wait for opportunities for generosity and love to present themselves to him, he sought them out. I should be doing the same thing in my own life and especially for the remainder of this trip.
During free time, I went exploring and got lunch with Rhett, Anthony, Ross and Lane. We went inside a stunning church with blue walls and gold designs and trim around it. It was a very different styled church than others I have seen thus far and I enjoyed sitting for many minutes and taking in the details. Not to mention there was air conditioning so who knows how long we really sat there :))
Also, today I thought it would be pretty funny to take pictures of tourists who are dressed in only the finest travel attire :P. I got Ross in on my idea and he tried to get close enough to look like he is apart of the group or friends with the people. It is honestly hilarious and we have seen some pretty extreme outfits.
I am very thankful for today, for the insight it gave me into my own life, the areas in need of improvement, and the giggles as I get to know my fellow peers more everyday. I feel refreshed, inspired and filled :]