I have to say that I'll miss this neighborhood where I've been staying since the middle of July. The small community of three or four friars, visiting the Capuchin nuns next door for Mass in the morning, the regular folks doing regular stuff, the friendly Turks at Istanbul Kebab, the crazy store where the Chinese ladies sell everything in the universe, including cheap school supplies for the local Italian student, and the nice girls at Alice Pizza.
But probably more than anything I'll miss being so close to the basilica of St. Paul. It's usually a pretty peaceful place to go an pray or just sit, the Blessed Sacrament chapel is a cozy spot, and there's almost always a priest to hear your confession. There might even be a confessor who speaks English, either the Italian monk who speaks just a little but is very willing, the one I can't figure out who hears in five languages and always gives as a penance one of the psalms coming up in the vespers that day (that was easy), or the one whom I think is German and who absolves, I absolve thee from thy sins... Valid and licit? I don't know. Just too cool? Absolutely.
I don't know if all of these natural and supernatural delights will be as easy to come by in my new circumstances, though I'm already praying that God show me the way to a good confessor. But here some wisdom from the Desert Fathers arrives for inspiration:
If a monk knows of a place where he can make progress, but where the necessities of life can only be had with difficulty, and for that reason does not go there, such a monk does not believe in God.
Even the Lord himself, when someone boldly announced his intention to become a disciple, warned that the Son of Man had nowhere to lay his head. That's the thing about the journey; at first you think that little by little you will soon arrive spiritually at a peaceful and serene place where you can rest your battered spirit. And it's true in a way. But it's also true that all you find is the way.
I once had a very good spiritual conversation with another friar on how much time we waste thinking that we will get our prayer and our spiritual lives together once things 'settle down' or 'get back to normal.' But it's an illusion. There's no such time. There's only the mess, and the only time to pray is now.