By the time I got up, cloud low on the eastern horizon had just parted to reveal the newly risen sun. It's the first time I've seen it so near the horizon since I've been here as the church apartment faces north. The eastern balcony of the Sisters' guest house, however faces east and the view unobstructed. It was half past seven. With prayer, writing time and breakfast at a leisurely pace, it was after ten when we headed out for a last expedition to the food shops, so that we could prepare picnic food for the journey to Palermo for our home flight tomorrow. Getting to the airport from here involves three changes of coach, so we are both, understandably nervous about the journey.
The sun continued to shine out of a blue sky, however, and the view of Mount Etna this early in the day was one of the best of my five weeks here. We climbed half way up to Castelmola, but that was far enough for us on this occasion, and after we heard the midday Angelus in the form of a recorded Christmas or Marian hymn (I know not which) echoing across the valley from Castelmola's duomo high above us, we turned back and headed for home.
After discussion we'd decided it was prudent to make triple photocopies of Clare's emergency travel documents just in case anyone inspecting them at Palermo wanted to keep one. She'll be relieved of it when we arrive at Border Control in Gatwick, so the Consul told us, but we'll be back in a place where we are citizens, and only need a passport to leave again, and we'll have to pay as much again for a new one which isn't a use once only job. So, having returned and collected the necessary documents we then walked back to piazza San Antonio Abate to get the photocopies done at the EDICOLE internet shop. All in all that was about four miles worth of walking before finally sitting down to a very welcome lunch.
At tea time Suore Sylvana, Suore Tarcisia, Bruce and Margaret Duncan all arrived, and we had plenty of time for introductions and briefings on ecumenical affairs before we all went to join the community for Vespers and Adoration. I admit to feeling sad that this would be the last time. I have more than enjoyed sharing in their prayer life, it has fed me and sustained me in this past difficult week, and taught me about pacing and priorities in life. On such a simple foundation, so much can be achieved. At the end we bid farewell to most of the sisters, as we shall be leaving early tomorrow, while most are still at breakfast after Mass. We're taking the earliest practicable coach to Catania we can manage to ensure we have enough time to get across the island.
Here's hoping it all works out as intended.