My dear friends in Christ,
It’s hard to believe I’ve been in Rome for a month already! So what is God up to in this place? Of course, I still have no idea. But the two things come to mind when I ask the question. First, this place is full of vitality.
I find this energetic affirmation of life in the diverse and lively congregation of St. Paul’s, whose community claims homes on at least four continents, worships in English and Spanish and speaks many more languages. It is in my flat mates, who themselves hail from many places. It is in the combination of energetic purpose and exhaustion of the guests who spend their days at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center in our crypt. It is in the busy, noisy Roman streets I have been exploring, both in pairs as we seek to visit all our parishioners in their neighborhoods (which typically entails hearing fascinating stories while consuming large quantities of coffee and gelato) or on my way to an ecumenical
gathering or in my off hours as I walk, bike, and ride transit from here to there and then find my way back again. It’s among the laid-back residents of the post-season beach town of Anzio. It’s in the timelessness of the Santuario della Madonna Madre delle Grazie della Mentorella, favorite retreat of Pope John Paul II and home to a cave inhabited by St. Benedict. So much life. Still understanding so little of the spoken language, I am learning to tune in to the unspoken languages of the worlds in which I am immersed.
The second comprehension that arises when I ask what God is up to is that the sacred permeates all this life around me. It is as though these Roman worlds are opening up new spaces for appreciating and knowing God. New faces of the Incarnation.
I’ll be travelling a bit further afield next week. The Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe is having its convention at All Saints’ parish in Waterloo, Belgium next weekend, where among other things, a new bishop will be elected. A few weeks ago, St. Paul’s was one of the hosts for a visit by the four bishop candidates (as the humble intern, I got to be the very amateur videographer!), as we had an opportunity to consider what God may be inviting the Episcopal churches to do and be in Europe. Convention will be interesting.
So more to come as I continue to wonder and appreciate all that God is up to at St. Paul’s, the JNRC, Rome and Europe.