I am not Catholic but I have attended three Masses in Firenze in the past five days.
First in ancient Orsanmichele; last night in Santissima Annuziata in Piazzo di Santissima Annunziata vicino del’Osepdale Degli Innocenti; tonight in San Lorenzo.
I never plan this. I am just out walking the passagiata when suddenly a church appears (this IS Florence) and I am drawn inside.
Tonight, just as I opened the massive doors of San Lorenzo, the organ started playing. This was clearly a segno.
“Can I participate in the Mass?” I asked in English, not Italian.
“Di sicuro!” he encouraged me nevertheless.
I went to the middle pew, sat down, and closed my eyes. I wasn’t exactly praying; but I wasn’t really sitting there. I was somewhere in my higher self. Thank goodness. It’s been heavy down here.
I told myself I was attending Mass to practice Italian, a way to learn the language by listening. But the truth is, I hardly understand any of what is spoken in Italian church.
And then I heard the one thing that I clearly understood spoken from the pulpit:
“Who among us can judge a heart?”
Is this what I have been doing…judging? How can I release someone without judgement? Can I release myself from the anger and disappointment of my own judgements?
“Help me, ” I think I heard myself say.
We stood to receive the sacraments – the wounds of Christ. Arms out, hands turned to the altar, willing to receive the nails.
I got it.
I came to Florence to heal, but first I have to be willing to take the full power of the wounds: I have to open and dissect my own heart in order to find and let go of the pain, and anger and frustration…and the sadness. That is the thorn that keeps bleeding me from the inside. I have to open myself to open heart surgery, as both patient and surgeon.
Now I understand why I so easily understand what is spoken to me here in Florence, but have so much difficulty expressing myself in Italian. I hear the truth in my heart, not in my ears.
And when I am ready, my voice will catch up.