Rodney, Kaze and I stroll on the walls of the ancient city of Avila. These eleventh century walls bristle with bastions, towers and battlements and are some of the best preserved in Europe.
Kaze is living in Madrid in 1986. Rodney and I have attended
an ICA conference in Bilbao, Spain. The three of us decide to go on a pilgrimage to see something that is reported to be holy. After the conference, we pick Kaze up in Madrid and hop a train to journey into another century.
We plunge into the historical setting of Avila and absorb the stillness and calm as we sit on ancient stones that seep into our bones. We listen to these old walls and hear centuries of people and carts rumbling through the streets.
We ramble through twists and turns and locate Teresa’s Convent. Peering through a large glass window, a sign informs us St. Teresa and her colleague St. John of the Cross used to talk here. Here they levitated.
Rodney whispers, “Do you really think they levitated?” We can only guess, but we ourselves feel light. Something mystifying seeps into our bones as we walk these paths.
Teresa’s prayer intrigues us. Something happens that we can’t explain. The prayer, “He who has God finds he lacks nothing. God alone suffices” never leaves us even decades later.
Our pilgrimage to Avila became one of those defining moments in our shared life in the 80’s. When Rodney died he had the prayer of St. Teresa in his billfold. I now have that same prayer posted in my apartment, in both the bedroom and my office.
Avila is a permanent swirl of rough stones, heavy walls, baking bread, storks and mysterious air.