THE GRATINGS IN THE CHURCHES OF ENNA

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On Good Friday the streets of Enna are swarming with tourists from all over Europe. Many churches are open, even those that usually are kept closed during the year, due to the shortage of priests.

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The Church of Santa Chiara was open. It was adjacent to the ex-convent of the Franciscan Poor Clare Sisters. There were many tourists inside the church, who admired the artistic tiles on the floor and the graves of the soldiers who died in the First and Second World War.

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Then, everybody moved to the cathedral from where the litters with the statues of Jesus and Our Lady of Sorrows were carried in procession.

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I think few tourists paid attention to the gratings both inside and outside the churches. Obviously, they didn’t know the history of Enna. They couldn’t know why there were gratings not only inside the churches but also in the external walls.

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One time there were many monasteries, convents and churches in Enna. Many nuns were cloistered. They had no contact with the external world except through the gratings. They were able to look outside without being seen, for the gratings were very thick. They could see people in the church and, through the external gratings, they could also see the processions and people walking in the street.

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These days there are no cloistered nuns anymore. The last were the Carmelite Sisters, who left Enna a few years ago. Now, the empty convents, churches and gratings witness the presence of the nuns that lived there.
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

HOW TO SOLVE INNER PROBLEMS

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A long time ago, I thought that to solve my inner problems I should have a house in the countryside, live in the nature, and breathe fresh air. So, I purchased a plot of land and built a house on it, a big house with many rooms. At the beginning, it seemed that something was about to change in my life. I felt satisfied to have built such a big house. I became very diligent. I improved the soil and planted many young trees and grapevines. Nevertheless, little by little, I became aware that the new house couldn’t calm my inner discomfort. A few years later, I sold the house and moved to a luxurious apartment in town. There, I felt uncomfortable after one or two years. I wanted to spend my life near the sea, but I didn’t feel like moving anymore. Instead, I decided to travel somewhere.
In ancient Rome, there was a similar character who moved from one place to another all over the world. He hoped that a new environment would bring him good luck. Coming across him, the Latin poet Horatio said to him, ‘Caelum, non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt.’ It means, ‘They change their sky, not their soul, who rush across the sea.’ Although the place where we live changes, that is, the sky changes, our mind is the same. Therefore, the way to overcome our trouble comes from inside ourselves. We should rely on our inner strength and inner light without expecting any help from others…

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

AFRICAN DANCES

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On Sunday, William and I went to a village almost 150 kilometers away. There, they were having a celebration for a member of the organization who had been advanced in his career. To get to that village, we crossed a torrid zone of the Rift Valley. It seemed that all the vegetation had been destroyed by a wildfire. The trees were without leaves. William told me to be careful not to be stung by tsetse flies, because I would sleep for a long time or forever if one of those flies stung me. Even the cows sometimes died from a sting of a tsetse fly. I laughed to myself. How could I avoid coming across a tsetse fly? For sure, I couldn’t travel inside a mosquito net! However, we passed that arid zone unharmed. Once in a while, we saw some monkeys and guinea hens.
In the village, there was bustle and a festive air. There were many street vendors. I purchased a flashlight, which can be very useful in Africa.
Walking in the street, I saw something that seemed to be a very old rite, but nobody was able to explain its meaning to me. On one side in a small square, three men were beating
their drums. On the opposite side, there was a big porcupine inside a cage made of reeds on a table. I had never seen such a big porcupine before. The animal was terrified and hook its posterior part, which seemed to be a tail. At almost two meters from the cage of the porcupine, a white circle with a diameter of about one meter was drawn on the round. Inside the circle, there were some quills of the porcupine, a metal tray, and other objects that I couldn’t make out. Two women alternated in dances. The rhythm of the drums was continuous. A man wearing a sharp tail made of cloth danced.
I wanted to know the symbolic meaning of that old dance and of the white circle drawn on the ground. I tried to analyze the symbols, but I couldn’t make out any meaning. Later, I asked a member of the organization to solve the mystery about those symbols. He was an anthropologist and an authority on African lore.
“African dances,” he said, “are just dances of joy and are performed to celebrate something. They are not rites and don’t have any symbolic meaning. Here in Africa, people dance only for enjoyment. In past times, the Africans danced to welcome the warriors who returned from battle. Here, the dances have no other meaning but expressions of joy, love, and peace.”
“What is the meaning of the porcupine, the white circle, the dances of those women, and that man who danced with a tail made of cloth?”
“Porcupine meat has an exquisite taste. This animal is a protected species in Tanzania, but sometimes poachers catch it. The porcupine you saw will be killed to be eaten. The ones who danced are not women, but men disguised as women. The white circle was drawn just for fun to give the impression that they were witch doctors. That dance was just a joke, fun, and nothing else.”

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

TRAVEL TO ROME

rome-night-14453025[1]I arrived at Termini Station in Rome. It was the year of the Jubilee. I wanted to follow the instructions that the Catholic Church imposes on the occasion of the Jubilee. Besides doing a good deed, like giving alms, a pilgrim is asked to visit the catacombs and all four patriarchal churches.
Leaving from the side exit of Termini Station, I walked to the Basilica of Saint Mary the Greatest, and then I kept walking on Merulana Street and visited the Basilica of Saint John in Lateran. From there, I took a bus to the catacombs. When I arrived at the Vatican, I headed for the basements. I meditated for a few minutes before the tomb of Pope John XXIII and made an offering for his beatification.
It was already late. To complete my Jubilee, I needed to visit the Church of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. I took the subway and got there in time, a few minutes before the basilica closed.
After having admired the harmonious and austere colonnade outside the church, I went in and stopped briefly to have a look at the splendid mosaics on the ceiling.
While I was admiring the drawings, a gray-haired guy about forty-five years old, with a southern Italian accent, came up to me.
“What about dividing the cost half and half?”
I was surprised by his asking and had a quick look at him to make sure he was a good guy. He wore casual clothes and looked very self-confident. Soon, I recovered from my astonishment.
“What cost?”
“If we insert some coins into the slot of this telescope, we can see the mosaics on the ceiling closer.”
“Yes, of course!”
We inserted the coins and admired those gorgeous mosaics. Then, the stranger told me something about the basilica.
“It stands on a place where it is believed that Saint Paul was buried. This basilica is the biggest after Saint Peter’s. The emperor Constantine erected a small building in this place, but the subsequent emperors demolished it to build a new basilica, which lasted until a disastrous fire. This basilica was rebuilt similar to the one before the fire. Under the altar, there is the tomb of Saint Paul.”
“I would like to confess. Have you seen any priests who hear confession?”
“Yes, I saw one near the door on the way out.”
We walked together toward the priest, but he refused to listen to me because it was too late, and the church was about to be closed. Actually, the priest was tired because he had heard confessions all day long, and for him it was enough! So, my new friend and I went out of the church and walked down the street.
On the way, we talked about the Jubilee, morals, and religions.
“There is too much theology in your mind. You should use your heart not your brain!” the stranger said.
“Maybe you are right.”
“Once, I knew two exceptional persons. One of them was Padre Pio, a Franciscan friar with the stigmata in his hands just like Jesus. He bore the signs of Jesus’s passion for fifty years until his death when the stigmata disappeared, and his hands returned to be normal. He had the ability to read people’s minds. He was able to be present simultaneously in two different, distant places. Another remarkable person is Natuzza Evolo. Like Padre Pio, she can read people’s minds. She lives in Paravati, Calabria.”
We said goodbye, and then, he headed for the subway station. I kept hanging about the area. After about half an hour, I saw him again, sitting on a bench, waiting for his train.
“You are here again! Well! Since we meet again and not by chance, I want to give you this gift.”
He took from his pocket a sheet of paper, a little bit crumpled, with writing on the front and back and handed it to me. Meanwhile, the train arrived. Getting on the train, he waved his hand to me and smiled from ear to ear.
The train left. I have never seen that man again in my life, but the precious sheet of paper is still with me. I sat on a bench and unfolded it. It contained a list of forty-four titles of books. Later, just to be on the safe side, I made some photocopies.
The first book in the list was, The Book of Mirdad; the last, Dogen and Soto Zen.
The listed books range over many subjects: literature, philosophy, meditation, cultures, and religions. There are books about Sufism, Gurdjieff, Saint Augustine, Plato, Osho, and so on. The titles are handwritten, so difficult to decipher. Some are almost impossible to read. Yet, there is a bookseller in my hometown who helped me to read the titles. Finally, we deciphered all the titles except two.
From time to time, I give a copy of the list to some friends of mine. So far, I have read more than half of the listed books. I hope to read all of them before the end of my life.
At Termini Station, I collected my baggage from the checkroom, and I then took a train to Paris.

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

TRAVELS OF THE MIND (second edition)

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Mindful Travel Book Inspires Personal Growth & Happiness

World traveler Ettore Grillo remembers a special conversation at a noblemen’s club in Sicily, where members relate their travel stories. He records their talks, and the result is Travels of the Mind, a mind-expanding book with travel tips, stories, and deep conversations.

Adding his own travel experiences, the author’s Travels of the Mind becomes a spiritual inner journey as well as a self-help book. These discussions are helpful for getting over anxiety, depression, and personality disorders. The author overcame his own anxiety and panic attacks by undertaking meditation and travel, and by opening his heart to God.

Travel along to such widespread places as Tanzania, Medugorje, London, Paravati (Calabria), Rome, Paris, Tokyo, New York, and small towns in Germany and Switzerland. But travel is not the only thing discussed. The men speak openly of love, spirituality, mind, life, and death. They debate the biggest puzzles of life: What is love, can people control their minds, and is there life after death?

About the Author: Ettore Grillo is a retired criminal attorney from Enna, Sicily, who spends his time writing and traveling. This is the second edition of his first book. He calls himself a citizen of the world. “All people are my friends, whatever race and social class they belong to.” He adds that “readers can see something of themselves in the pages of this unique book.” See his blog at ettoregrillo.wordpress.com.

“This book goes where no other travel book has gone before. Full of philosophy, meaningful discussions, as well as travel tips for the discerning traveler. Travels of the Mind is not only fascinating, but journeys deep into cultures around the world. Don’t leave home without it!” said Robert Fletcher, CEO of Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Agency.

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

 

MOSTAR AND KOTOR

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While we were staying in Medugorje, we visited the old city of Mostar not far from there.

Mostar deserves to be a UNESCO heritage site. It is really a beautiful city. The river Neretva with its emerald hue crosses the old city. Mosques, minarets and the artistic bridge called Stari Most adorn the Muslim quarters. These days the atrocities of the ethnic war between Serbs, Muslims and Croats are over and the citizens coexist peacefully regardless of the religion each professes.

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From Medugorje we traveled to Montenegro and had a stop in the old city of Kotor which is a UNESCO heritage site as well. Walking on the squares and narrow alleys, I had a feeling of being in Venice. Apparently, the Venetians who ruled this city for more than three centuries left the imprint of their presence. They also built the impressive fortifications that surround the old city. Climbing the 1600 stairs through the fortifications is the best way to admire a breathtaking landscape. But, what impressed me the most was the view of the huge rock mountains that surround the Bay of Kotor. They seem to rise from the water and touch the sky.
Mostar and Kotor are two special cities. Actually, every city, town, and village in the world has its uniqueness. All of them make up that fantastic colorful mosaic called planet Earth.
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

DUBROVNIK FIFTY YEARS LATER

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I came to Dubrovnik fifty years ago on a cruise ship. At that time I traveled with my uncle Salvatore and his wife. Now I am in Dubrovnik again with my love on my way to Medugorje.
Walking around the old city, my attention was caught by the artistic Onofrio’s fountain. It is near the gate to the old city. There is an inscription on the top of the fountain. It is written in Latin that it was built by a Neapolitan architect called Onofrio to supply water to the whole city.
Yesterday I visited the small Isle of Locrum which is very near Dubrovnik. Its Latin name means bitter fruit. It was very beautiful. The island is linked to the history of the crusades. Legend says that Richard the Lion-Heart was shipwrecked on this small island on the way back from the crusades.
Fifty years later Dubrovnik is still the same. Nothing has changed: the same alleys, the same walls, the same squares and churches. As for me, I have changed a lot. I am not the same person as I was fifty years ago. My soul has grown. I wonder whether everybody changes in the course of their life or most people remain the same from birth to death.
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo