Open up your heart | Musings from Rome

Hello to all my blogolites. 
 
Rome is crying tears from heaven as the rain comes down hard.  Tim and I went to St. Peter's Square early in the morning and I am glad we did. 

As we entered the square I saw a lone figure in the distance.
 

 

As I approached, I saw a man dressed in a burlap sack kneeling on the hard stone ground praying.

I suddenly noticed that he had no shoes on and that his feet were battered and worn.  It was clear that he had walked a lot of miles without shoes.

 

I watched him for quite a while.  People would walk by him or take pictures of him but he did not look at them. 
 
My first thought was that he was a beggar because there are a lot of those in Rome.  But he was not asking for money.  I saw a nun give him some coins and I wondered if I should do the same.  A number of thoughts crossed my mind:  should I give him some money? who was he? was this a scam? 
 
I decided to give him coins but hesitated. I was nervous to approach this man who was dirty and very different from me.  Then I thought of the readings from the Mass with the Cardinals yesterday and specifically "love one another". 
 
I made my move.  I approached him, held out the coins and he opened his hand.  The coins clang as they fell into his hand.  I thought that was the end of my meeting with him and began to turn and walk away.  But he thanked me and asked where I was from.  He told me he was from Assisi.  He pulled a pamphlet out of his bag and told me to love the poor.  He again thanked me and said May God bless you.  I walked away.

I must have broken the ice because after I left a group gathered around him and I could hear them asking questions.  He answered in a very gentle way.

 

If you open up your heart and mind, if you don't let the fear of the unknown limit you, the world expands.  Love your neighbor and God will love you.

Your Friend,

Jay

03/13/2013

Open up your heart | Musings from Rome