Taken when I first moved to Norcia. This is the little side chapel in the crypt church, that tradition holds is the site of the room Sts. Benedict and Scolastica were born in, and it was the little spot I and my friend Maria were received as oblates of the monastery. I expect those fragmentary frescoes – probably 13th century – are lost forever.

That post two down from this wasn’t actually a donation bleg, but there’s been a little wave from you all, so thanks for the little wave anyway.

I won’t go into details of everything that’s been going on in the last few weeks because though it seems important and interesting to me I’m sure it would be a howling bore to anyone else. But suffice to say that running around Italy on trains and staying in hotels, even in low season, hasn’t been cheap. The loss of my phone was a blow, and I’ve been too annoyed to go and get another one, but a friend has given me his loaner-phone for now, so it’s OK.

But anyway, thanks. It really does mean a lot that you guys are all out there, (even when I’m not really holding my end up so well) and it kind of makes all this feel a lot less futile and hopeless. At least we can all feel futile and hopeless together, right?

I actually sort of got a weird, backwards confirmation that I’m going the right direction with the life-stuff. One of the monks emailed me to say that there is an “agibile” flat in Norcia that’s available through a friend of the monastery, three beds, full bath and 500/month. But I got the email a couple of days after I’d gone up to sign the lease on the new place in Perugia. And when I learned that I’d missed this chance to move back home I was surprised to find I wasn’t in agony over it. I just wrote back:

Well, I’ve had a day or so to think about it, and I kind of think that this info coming as it did a few days after I signed for a year at the new place in Perugia, and paid a month’s rent, sort of seems like a sign from God, if that makes sense. Kind of confirmation that I’m going the right direction.

I think it’s going to be a good idea to go and take the Italian course, and get a driver’s license, get to know the Perugia Traddies (they’ve got weekly lectures!) make some more contacts, and do other things like this to build up a bit more of a foundation in this country. Kind of stop living like a refugee, ready to run in a moment. Stop hiding, I guess.

Might even get an Italian bank account! (Yeah, let’s not get crazy, eh?)


Really, everyone figures that Norcia hasn’t even started digging out yet.

[This was this week. It is the first time we’ve seen inside the crypt (or what’s left of it) and the “scavi” chapel we were using after the August quake. It was extremely weird to see the chair I always sat in, still in the exact spot I left it. Br. Anthony had told me the crypt had been totally destroyed, mainly because the bell tower and the upper church had collapsed straight on top of it, with everything just going right through the ceiling. But knowing and seeing were quite different. Those who have visited will remember this beautiful and valuable silver Baroque statue of St. Benedict that was in the alcove in the stairwell, opposite the little space where we had our creche at Christmas.]

They spent the very difficult winter just battening down the hatches inside the walls – covering stuff with giant tarps and building wooden scaffolding – and getting basic shelter constructed so people can stop living half outdoors. The huge task of assessing and cataloguing and figuring out what’s going to be rebuilt and how, hasn’t started. It’s still only barely spring up there until the end of March. (And Dear Lord, in your mercy, please no super-wet spring this year?) And all the work that needs doing is going to be outdoor work. So this is going to be a busy season.

And I think the Nursini in general are in similar condition to me. We’re all only just now getting things together, finding homes for the long term, figuring out what to do next. So, I think a year is a sensible amount of time to go be thinking and working on all this.

So, anyway, thanks again. And hey, I posted a thing! Kind of a lazy cop-out sort of thing, but a thing nonetheless! I always feel guilty when people donate and I haven’t been producing.