“Like you’re drawn to the ocean –” she said to her son. “– do you feel a conscious tug, or do you think you just have fond memories from when you were a kid?”
He stoked the fire and thought. “I think it’s both.”
I recalled the first time I saw a photograph of the Hermitage of Carceri in Assisi, Italy. I was a senior in college, in a seminar on mysticism. I felt a jolt and I knew: I have to go there. The next year, after spending Christmas in Ireland, I hopped a plane to Rome and rounded out a three-week solo backpacking trip in Assisi, the home of Saint Frances.
By that time in my trip, I’d stopped planning anything; I showed up not having a place to stay or knowing how I’d get from here to there in the sleepy town, which was mostly closed down for Christmas and the tourist off-season. Assisi was the place that sealed in this bone-deep trust: go where you’re called to go, be who you’re called to be, and you will find yourself supported.
“I don’t think any one thing is the thing,” I told my sweetheart’s mother this morning as we talked around the last crackles of the Christmas fire. “I think we’re compelled to go or be or create, and we don’t have to know why — we just have to follow what we love, which expands us to become bigger, to be more of who we were created to be.”