I was in transit for most of yesterday – I caught a flight from Milan in the morning and had a stop over of a few hours in London Heathrow waiting for my flight to Istanbul. I must say it was a great feeling to be back in a English speaking country – even if it was only for a few hours! I'd missed being able to understand what the heck is going on :) And I can sit down when having my coffee – I don't have to skull it at the bar! Small pleasures :P
I really enjoyed my time in Milan – it certainly has more of a business feel to it than any other place in Italy I have been. Even in Rome, it did not feel like a city in the sense where people go to work because of all the reminders of its ancient past as well as there being the Vatican. So yes, while there are many banks in Milan and even more shops (the latter which I tried to avoid as much as possible) I found Milan to be interesting and in certain areas, quite pretty.
For me the highlight was being able to see friends I have made in the past few years from Italy. For those who don't know, I am part of a Catholic movement called Communion and Liberation (the name always gives the wrong idea to Anglo Saxon minds - we are not Communists nor Libertarians!) which originated in Italy about 60 years ago. I joined this movement in high school and we are a very small group in Australia, especially when compared to the size of the movement in Italy today.
Apart from the benefits of understanding my own life and faith better, my experience of the movement has given me the chance to meet many wonderful people, particularly from Italy. So it was very special to me to be able to come overseas, thousands of kilometres from home and see friends, who have been very kind and welcoming to me.
My second night in Milan I caught up with friends who I made in Sydney during World Youth Day and have been charged with finding them jobs in Australia so they can come back :) And my last night in Milan I went to a meeting with the leader of the movement today – Fr Carron. The talk was obviously all in Italian, but my friend translated it for me so I was able to understand some points that I can think further on in the next few weeks. After the meeting, I met Fr Carron very briefly. It always strikes me when seeing Italian priests, in how affectionate they are. Certainly in Australia, the idea of a priest being physically affectionate with people, especially teenagers, is frown upon. But, as in Sydney when I watched the Italian priests with the teens, last night with Fr Carron it struck me how much they behave like actual fathers to people. It's heartening to see, although I don't think such behaviour in Australia would ever be seen in that way without some real shifting of our mind-set.
But, for all my friends back in Australia from the movement, I have it from Fr Carron's mouth – he will come to Australia. When, where, how – I have no idea. But he said he'd come!
Now I'm in Turkey. I arrived late last night and spent the day in Istabul today, which was no less than breathtaking and deserves its own post so check out the next post, dear reader!