I definitely had my glasses on the climb up Mount Subasio, the wilderness of which St. Francis would often escape to in order to pray.
Saint Rita receiving the partial stigmata
With boots removed, but glasses most definitely on, I set off to make the pilgrimage along the switchbacks.
The views and the shoeless suffering quickly stunned me into a reflective silence. There’s something profoundly moving about choosing to suffer and choosing to respond positively. Pain has the capability to transform a person, for better or for worse. I had a book about Saint Rita as a child, and she asked our Lord to allow her to suffer like he did. She bore a wound on her forehead for the rest of her life after asking this. I never understood how someone could ask to suffer until tramping around barefoot really drove home that suffering is a blessing, especially if you generally have a spirit of sacrifice and generosity.
Please note the glasses.
After 45 minutes, I arrived at the hermitage, and after navigating through it, I reached the site where St. Francis received the stigmata and where he preached to the birds. Also, the site where a classmate had band-aids for the cut on my toe. I got my picture with a statue of St. Francis praying on his back, which proves that my glasses were at the top of the mountain.
For the hike down, I put my shoes on for the sake of expediency and the cut. A few minutes down, I realized I no longer had my glasses on. But Mass was soon, and I didn’t have time to check all my pockets, so I said quick prayers to St. Francis and St. Anthony and hoped that my glasses were somewhere on my person. My roommate, Allie, and I sang “All Creatures of Our God and King” quietly as the crowd behind us shouted some patriotic tune.
Out of all the impressive parts of the universe, the oceans, the planets, the redwoods, the tuataras, the stars… mountains are probably my favorite. A friend once reflected to me, “Mountains make you feel small, but they give you a chance. You can climb them, conquer them, and then you’re on top of the world.” Mountains remind you of your weakness, but give you a chance to prove your strength. The best things in life, whether they be the best friends or the best experiences, participate in this same phenomenon.
Post-hike: I’ve never been happier to see shoes. And I love me some shoes.
Speaking of said experiences, I ended my hike at the lower part of the Basilica of St. Francis, where one of our chaplains celebrated anticipatory Mass. In his homily, he challenged us to “come to the Lord in silence” and offer up ourselves, if we truly wanted happiness. The Mass is a sort of mountain, too.
I searched every last pocket for my glasses, but to no avail. My glasses were lost. I asked the professors and RAs, but they hadn’t seen them either. I resigned myself to waking up at 4 the next morning and making the hike back up the mountain to search for them. I had to see the artwork and the landscapes and Europe! Also, my homework.
After coming back from Groundhog celebrations, though, the RA on duty greeted me with the most beautiful words I have ever heard, “Guess what we found?!” Apparently a hotel staff member had found them in the dining room…only…they were definitely on the mountain. Say hello to St. Francis, hotel staff member and patron saint of my glasses.
View from about halfway up Mt. Subasio