Wednesday, September 17 San Giovanni Rotondo to Ginvinazzo
I felt more at peace today than I have with the whole pilgrimage thus far. The post I sent this morning titled, “This One’s for You” seemed to clear away any of the clutter about why I felt nudged to take this pilgrimage. The presence of ongoing challenges regarding my technology and communication finally did its clarifying work. If this was a personal pilgrimage I needed to take then, with the technology challenges, I could have dug in a little deeper on the pilgrimage part and let all you know that I would check in when I could. But, that wasn’t going to do it for me.
This morning when I posted I was relieved to discover to discover the deeper agenda of this pilgrimage. I will explore that a little more here and then share some about this casual day of riding, enjoyment and rhythm.
Here’s the deal. The pilgrimage destination is Konya, Turkey where Rumi’s Tomb is located. But, this is not really about Rumi. The “Rome to Rumi” journey is symbol for every one of us who has experienced a movement, a growth, an evolution from the faith the we grew up with to the highly experimental, exploratory, and emerging spiritualities that most of us now embrace, to one degree or another.
Rumi is one of many spiritual influences. So is Jesus, Reinhold Neibuhr, Morrie from Tuesdays with Morrie Dan Fogelberg, Annie Lamott, Henri Nouwen, and a whole host of others. In the end, I hope to get to Rumi’s Tomb, but what I more interested in providing a model and a metaphor for all of us. What is your Rome? Where did you start? Was there some institutional or structured faith that you felt an obligation to?
And what is your Rumi now? Is it Joseph Campbell’s Power of Myth? Is it the Four Agreements? Might it be something more secular such as the Beatles, “All I Need is Love” or George Lucas’ presentation of the Force? Is it Native America spirituality or a movement more toward seeing God in nature that is represented in Celtic spirituality, paganism and panntheism?
I have been in ministry long enough to know that most of us are exploring and are on a journey of an ever-expanding faith or spirituality. I have also been in ministry long enough to have seen how much we each individually protect the institution of church by keeping our own spiritual evolution close to our chest and hidden. There is a problem with that. One, our own soul suffers when we can’t share safely with others the commitments and values that make us who we are. And, in the end, if we aren’t sharing our own authentic soul eventually the soul of the Church will die. If all we ever do is protect the Church eventually all that will be left is an empty shell—a museum piece.
This morning it became clear to me that what I am doing is beginning to build my own pulpit, but this one in not a wooden box, but a blog, a website, and a presence. And what I most want to do now with this pilgrimage is begin to give people permission to name their own Rome to Rumi pilgrimages. Where did you start? And who and what is deeply touching you today.
I am sure that this clarity had something to do with the way I was driving the pedals today. I still don’t have my bicycle computer re-attached. But, my map says that I completed about 110 kilometers (70 miles). The miles seemed effortless—partly due to the fact that there were no hills at all. The worst hills I encountered were the overpasses crossing busier highways. I once again felt as if I was riding in Idaho and would have mistaken it for that state if it wasn’t for the Italian style villas kept reminding me that I was a few thousand miles away.
A special treat was reaching the Adriatic Sea. I remember on my last pilgrimage how I would be too driven by the miles and the rhythm of the cycling that I would often pass by places such as hot springs and a field of flowers that begged for me to stop. I didn’t let that happen this time. I took off my cycling sandals and waded out into the sea collecting perfectly shaped shells of different colors and hues to remind me of this moment.
The funniest event of the day came when I stopped at a Tabacchi stop for some more water and a Coke to wash down a salami sandwich I picked up earlier at a deli. Sitting there was a middle-aged man hunched over a brown rice and navy bean soup that caught my attention immediately. It looked delicious and any cyclist will tell you that beans and rice are a perfect meal for the road. Full of protein and digests easily.
I pointed to the soup to the female clerk and said, “You have that! I want some of that soup.” She burst out laughing, the man looked up and shook his head with a hint of resignation, and after some language boxing, she retreated to the back and dished up the soup. Once I put the pieces together I realized what had happened. This was a husband/wife team that ran the store. This was their lunch that they had made special. It wasn’t one of the usual offerings of the Tabacchi store.
Nonetheless, she served up a bowl that was almost too much to eat. I noticed her bowl seemed a little thin. It was as good, even better than it looked at first. I was so glad to not have to eat another piece of bread with salami on it! I gave her a big tip to say thanks and before I rode off she handed me a bag with a farm ripe peach for my journey.
Tonight I am in Ginvinazzo (still checking spelling on that) about 20 kilometers north of Bari. I am set up in a tent about fifty feet from the Adriatic Sea and where the waves can serenade me to sleep tonight. I had anticipated riding to Ostuni tomorrow, but received an email that my two night reservation at the monastery has been cancelled. A large group is coming in and their money is apparently greener than my money. So, once again I’ll make it up as I go.