What a delightful summer morning! Our sweet little “Sesame Street” town, Fiesole, is tucked into the hills just above Florence. Since it was the last day of July, the first question we usually ask is: when will the shop/bar owners close for the grand summer shutdown? (more…)
Legends are made of high drama. Some have a smattering of gruesome details. We find both in the story of Santa Lucia (Saint Lucy).
As the patron saint of Sicily’s ancient city of Syracuse, Santa Lucia’s image is scattered around the city. We didn’t think much of it until we spotted the strangest delicacy in a window of the local pasticceria, pastry shop: eyeball cookies. (more…)
Oh, the monastic life!
Italy is filled with monasteries. Some are still functioning, some are museums and some are experiencing “adaptive reuse.” But no matter what the religious order, the dedicated souls that makes up each community seem to have a common purpose. Oh, sure. There’s the spiritual purpose, of course. But beyond that, they usually come up with a unique secondary goal: the blending and perfecting of spirits. We mean the drinking kind. (more…)
“St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come down
Something is lost and can’t be found”
We have a great friend, Zia. We’ve worked with her for years on various projects, and whenever we needed something that seemed to be lost, she recited this little prayer to Saint Anthony. Miraculously, it always seemed to work. Once, in fact, she located something missing in our own home because Saint Anthony told her it was on a specific shelf in the dining room cabinet. I thought it was an unlikely place, but Em encourage me to immediately go home to check it out anyway—and there it was, just like Zia said. Or just like Saint Anthony said. That experience made us believers, even though we’ve rarely used the prayer since . . . except for one particular day in France! (more…)
On a brisk, cool Saturday morning in September, we set out on our trek through the French countryside. From Rue de Saint Jacques in the town of Le Puy-en-Velay to Conques, toward Toulouse, the trail known as the GR 65, wends its way through some of the prettiest French villages in the country. Within minutes, we were on the pilgrims’ footpath, leading to Santiago, Spain, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. But we weren’t going that far . . . not even close . . . not this time. Our plan was to cover only a little over 200 kilometers (125 miles) in 10 days. Next year, perhaps we’ll walk another section. We’ll see. Our conclusion is that those medieval pilgrims were some pretty tough cookies indeed! (more…)
We decided to take a big walk!
Sometimes it’s helpful to symbolize life’s journey by creating a walk that challenges us with everyday trials, on our way to a special destination. It’s even more powerful when that path is one that’s served as The Way for millions of pilgrims over centuries of soulful walking.
The Way of Saint James is one of the most famous pilgrimages in the history of the world, and is made up of countless paths throughout Europe, all converging at Cape Finisterre, at the western coast of Spain. Finisterre means “land’s end,” and was definitely thought of in ancient times as the “end of the world.” What better destination to symbolize life’s pilgrimage? (more…)
Where do science and religion intersect?
According to artist Cornelia Parker, the two opposites are currently merging in the corner of a room in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. She calls it Anti-Mass, and the work of art is currently housed at the de Young Museum, gallery 16, to be exact.
Recently, when a soulful Southern Baptist Church burned to the ground at the hands of arsonists, Cornelia, with permission, collected and reclaimed the charred timbers of the once-vital wood structure. And then, without permission, she began her magical transformation that would, in her own artistic language, fuse science and religion; mind and heart; tangible and spiritual; grounded and otherworldly; violence and reverence into a powerful image, to lure people out of dualism and at least momentarily, into an awareness of the underlying unity of all things. (more…)
California has a reputation. It’s laid back, casual. Beachy. Of course, those of us in northern CA are not beachy, but tell someone that you’re from CA and immediately they say, “Oh, perpetual summer. Beaches. Bay Watch.” In fact, California’s reputation can lead some to think that whatever happens in CA is “lite.” But we can be a pretty serious lot. Take our holiday decorations, for example. No one in their right mind would want to miss the 1.5 mile winding drive through the Vasona Lake Park. Why? To totally immerse themselves in the very serious lights display. (more…)
We just spent a delightful weekend under the “D” in the Hollywood hills. That famously gi-normous word that hovers on the side of the mountain, has recently been refurbished and is even more white, blocky and ever-present than before. Although it’s actually a rather crude and corny adornment, over the years it has become an icon known the world around as the symbol of star-studded glamor and movies that have changed people’s lives. (more…)