Happy Valentine’s Day!

Italian Heart

When he left I moved in to look and found this heart framed by old lichen. In this particular convent garden the heart surely symbolizes spiritual support in an oasis of peace, love and care given and received in the community of Mundo-X. Later that evening I learned his story.

Today the old convent is run as a fine hotel staffed by young men and women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. In return for their service they are nurtured and healed. I celebrated a traditional Italian Christmas dinner there in October replete with all the customary dishes: antipasto, chicken sausage, manicotti, braised veal, ending with a parade of festive pannetone. As Italians say, “Abbonndanza” or abundance! Christmas all year long is one of the things they do to support themselves and their healing mission.

The young man is Nicola and his life at thirty-five seemed over. He'd abused his parents, stolen from his friends, and sought comfort in heroin. He was to report to the Politizia in six weeks time to begin serving what seemed like a future in hell. But Nicola was determined to find a better way before that so that his life's story didn't end this way. He found the solace of others who'd been where he was and their example became his courage, to live and to grow in the Sanctuaria della Foresta. 

I'll be posting other photos of this beautiful place. But today is Valentine's Day and I want to share his heart of chestnuts to wish each of you an abundance of love in your relationships and one special Valentine!