The Sign of the Three Burros by Victoria Chance
a short story from my stay in Italy in the summer of 2010
While living in Cortona, I often walked to Le Celle, a tiny monastery, about three miles away, founded by St Francis in 1211. One early bright morning, I decided to sit silently on a stone bench beneath a marble statue of the Holy Mother just outside the entrance to the monastery. While praying a simple prayer, all of a sudden, three bumbling burros joyously appeared –obviously a threesome and totally ridiculous! I had heard their braying in the echo-y distance as I walked, and now here they were practically in my lap! In turn, each one came up to me and allowed me to scratch him, and then they ambled off together in a jackassy kind of way (but not before one went over to a tall stone ashtray/trashcan and ate all the cigarette butts before trotting down the hill!)
See, that’s a sign: Stay open. Take turns and take care of one another (even if one of you really likes stupid stuff). I think that was a huge part of the message of St Francis, who was fond of all manner of bird, beast, moon and star, and who sought God’s voice and vision in the whole world around and within.
Interestingly, I never heard or saw the burros again on my many walks out to the Celle after this single encounter. So, I’m sure the sign was for me. Not long after this, another character I met in Italy said that, “Really, we were just put on Earth to fart around.” So, my sweet friends, get a scratch whenever you can, enjoy yourself and one another, and all things will be well enough.
Balance, Breath, and Being