Just three more days in Rome. . .
There may be a sentimental bone somewhere in my body. . .maybe. . .however, moving from one place to another rarely sets it to aching. In the last year, I've lived in two U.S. states and three countries, traveling approx. 30, 000 miles in the process. It's hard to get weepy over another trip.
Though I usually despise packing/unpacking, this time around the process has been something of a minor joy. Why? Since I'm actually moving out of Rome rather than just traveling home for a visit, I'm being merciless in cleaning out my stores of Stuff. Getting rid of Stuff is always en-lightening for me (sorry). And this time is no exception. There is one difference, however: more than any previous move (the last one being in 2008), I'm determined not to accumulate excessive amounts of Stuff again. We'll see how that goes when the next order to move comes.
One of the brothers remarked that packing for me must be easy since I don't have "knick-knacks." He's right; I don't. I have books instead. But a Dominican w/o his books is like a Franciscan w/o his sandals and a Jesuit w/o his Scotch. It's unnatural. Most of my literature and theology books are in storage in Texas, so there will another culling sometime soon. Right now, I'm giving books to friars here in Rome and to the university's library. There's still plenty to pack.
Someone asked me recently what I will miss about Rome. This was my honest answer: the peace and quiet. I know, I know. . .peace and quiet can be had anywhere but here I've been able to spend inordinate amounts of time in solitude, a rare thing for pastors and parochial vicars. Busyness makes me crazy. Deadlines, schedules, to-do lists, meetings, etc. give the impression of accomplishment and productivity but rarely is anything of real importance achieved. The same is true for small group politics--something I am really not very good at! I'm a gregarious introvert. I can turn on the extrovert qualities when necessary, but then I need a day or two of introversion to recover. Truly, I envy people who thrive on group interaction--parties, meetings, etc.--people who are energized and renewed while working and playing well with others. Give me the one-on-one of spiritual direction, the confessional, the marriage prep, the tutorial, the seminar. . .
Anyway, I will miss Rome. Her narrow, cobblestone streets upon which I invariably manage to twist an ankle. Her indomitable gypsies and their ingenuous tactics for earning a euro. Her very southern pace of daily life--what's the rush? Her sensible yet inefficient attitude toward rules, schedules, and what we Americans think of as "common sense." Her love of bella figura and her rejection of utilitarianism. The heavy sense that history waits around every corner.
Of course, I'm moving to New Orleans. . .not exactly the epicenter of American efficiency and the bourgeois work ethic. Deo gratis!
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