Category Archives: spirit

Sunday Assisi Walk Part I

How endless the visual and historical delight is here! This morning I went back to visit San Rufino, a cathedral I’ve now been to seven or eight times. Since I went on the Roman Antiquities tour yesterday — an absolute subterranean wonder, medieval Assisi having been built on top of a first century Roman town– I paid more attention to what is under the Cathedral… the layers of civilization and time in plain view.

Above: the front rose window from the outside on Good Friday and from inside this morning, reflected in the glass flooring that’s been used in order to reveal Roman wall work underneath.

On one side of the cathedral, next to statues of Jesus, Mary, David, Isaiah and others, is a preserved arch opening into an ancient Roman space.

Here, a hokey inclusion of my own shadow to hint at the insubstantial brevity of this life.

Speaking of life passing, one of the blessings of being here has been distraction from the last months of my sister’s struggle. I’ve lit candles for her all over the city and shared a little about her with a new friend, but otherwise not much — not much memory or hand-wringing. This morning, I threw coins into a pool at Santa Chiara (my sister’s middle name being Claire, recall), one each for K, the boys, me, and her.

Not three minutes later, there was a beautiful and perfect feather in my path. Some say finding a feather means an Angel is near. I thought cynically, it also means pigeons are near. But then, not two feet away, I found a sticker emblazoned with a pentagram, a symbol important in magic generally and to my sister personally. And so, there she was. Hello, Noreen!

I took out the little owl that I’ve been carrying around in my pocket (one of hers) and photographed it near a new picture of Francis in her honor from my favorite perch of this visit — my chair by the windowsill. Need I say — I am a sucker for religious iconography?

I finished the first Assisi-inspired quilt (below) and am rushing to finishing another to give my host before I leave.

Didn’t get to share pix of the sweet cafe where I had breakfast or the many incredible street views returning home, but look how long this is already. I’m going to load some wall and door pix on Flickr and otherwise will be posting about this trip for weeks to come!

Home Tuesday. Apologies for not commenting on blogs right now. Can’t wait to catch up with Jude’s class and Happy Birthday, Nancy!!!

Good Friday Procession

The Christ figure had been brought down the hill to the Basilica of St Francis after early Mass first thing on Good Friday. At dusk, we gathered at San Rufino to process Our Lady of Seven Sorrows down the hill to join her Son. Then, after a brief service in the Basilica, Mother and Son were processed back up the hill as a full moon rose. Town lights were largely turned off, with small wicked lanterns lighting out way — so the pictures are dark. I post them anyway to capture at least part of each section of this extraordinary ritual.

Waiting outside San Rufino

Our Lady lit by cell phone flashes

Interior Basilica of St Francis

I could only load one video. It’s dark, but strangely enough the cell phone lights flashing on the statue of Mary add a mystical feel.

PS. I am moved by the communal experience of it — seems the whole town came out — more than the spiritual experience of it. In fact, the white hoods and crosses can’t help but be creepy to someone immersed in the study of slavery.

Ghost of Tara and travel plans

After ten years of a blogging on a basically free WordPress platform, I used up the allotted memory. A funny time for that to happen, if you ask me. A little like how I waited weeks to shut off my sister’s phone and cable and when I finally did so, she was dead within 15 hours.

As for WordPress — I just signed up for two years on the business plan. I’d rather not pay for what’s been free, of course, but I’m so relieved that the fix was straightforward, I don’t really care. Who knows what other bibs and babs will show up here now?

(Please note: in the process I dropped “WordPress” from my domain name, so your computer might be suspicious. Also, if you link to this blog on your blog, you’ll need to update. Now it’s: http://www.deemallon.com).

Here are a few more pictures of the box holding my sister’s ashes. The play of light is something she would have appreciated.

Today, grief brought me to this realization: I am an incredibly resilient person. At the moment pretty battered and worn out, but not at all worried about myself. That’s what resilience will do for a person.

Two obvious contributing factors to my brand of resilience: loving food (seriously! and I don’t mean loving food in a serious way, but seriously, this is a factor) and, this is key — seeing beauty and stories everywhere.

I started my day watching an interview with Gloria Steinem (you can find the link in Michelle’s comment yesterday – thank you, Michelle!) Talking about the importance of narratives, Steinem said something like, ‘we are wired to tell and listen to stories.’

Yes. And to appreciate beauty. Wherever we find it.

Another mosaic from my sister’s clip files.

And sidewalk shadow and rust seen while walking to my car this afternoon– also beautiful.

There’s a lot left to do in my sister’s apartment, but the end glimmers and good thing because an incredible travel opportunity dropped into my lap.

Such a gift! Such timing!

My cousin Ginny (also Mallon) offered me a small scholarship through The Fat Canary literary and art journal to attend a residency program in Assisi, Italy for the latter half of April!

Can you believe that?

What contributes to your resilience?

Cold, cold wind

Yesterday, I found this drawing of a polar bear while cleaning out a closet. It seemed particularly synchronous as I had just the night before dreamt about a bear (a brown bear, but still) AND the temperatures dropped radically overnight.

I am filming a big brown bear at a safe distance. After a while of watching it travel up a steep slope, I watch it on the video clip on my phone, until I realize that by doing so, I no longer have eyes on the real bear. Where is it? I panic a little and slide into water at the edge of a small lake, as if that offered protection. Even as I am trying to save myself from the bear, I am suddenly consumed with thoughts about drowning myself.

But then I start swimming to a cluster of buildings on the opposite shore and find myself surprised at how easily I get there. I’m not that strong of a swimmer. Something about the sanctity of the body.  Inhabiting it. Trusting it to take me to the next safe place.

** The landscape is very like the landscape of the trout lakes up in the Sierras where we vacationed one summer a while back. CALIFORNIA.

** The drawing copies a portion of an illustration to the fairy tale, East of the Sun, West of the Moon.

Label the room. Why not?

Labeling a room is one way to start the week. And lists are a way of life. It’s sunny. Birds are singing. And tomorrow, it will snow. They’re predicting 10″ to 12″ — but lighter this time. Still, the forecast is enough to kibosh a Salem visit for tomorrow. More time to write!

Even though my cold came roaring back this weekend, I managed to: fill four bins with twigs out back, make a necklace, cook six meals (counting Friday), clean up several rooms and vacuum the basement studio (while in pursuit of my Pfaff sewing machine cord and pedal — found!), buy and wrap a bday gift, make a tricky ask for photo attribution on FB, watch Betsy deBoob on 60 Minutes, and continue along with the creepy and satisfying Netflix series, “The Frankenstein Chronicles”.

How was your weekend? Are you watching anything good?

I’ll leave you with three selections from Krista Tippet’s interview with social scientist and YouTube sensation, Brené Brown.

“It’s really a struggle to straddle the tension of YES/AND.”

“Your level of true belonging can never be greater than your willingness to stand alone.”

Brown also cited a useful definition of civility as promulgated by the Houston organization, Institute for Civility in Government: “Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs, and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.”

(Should I take back the “deBoob” insult? Maybe. But not now).

Interview here: “Strong back, soft front, wild heart.”

Days and wondering

Happy Solstice everyone! Boys due home the day after tomorrow and much prep left, so I’ll also take this opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year!

And to ask a question.

After literally feeling sick watching Maddow yesterday, today I heard a new blog title in my head : Pattern and Refuge.

And it makes me want to ask, although there is no getting away from the current political mess, where do you find Sanctuary?

The kitchen remains a place of refuge and solace for me. Today, it’s a hearty vegetable soup.