European Youth Meet in Assisi
On The First Weekend In September 2019
On Friday afternoon, the youth went to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. Together with Antonello, their guide, they entered the Basilica that was built to preserve the Porziuncola, the place where Jesus appeared to St. Francis. They then went to the Casa del Divino Ashram and sang Bhajans (devotional songs), this was followed by a sumptuous dinner. When it was all over, the men went to sleep on the top floor of the Ashram, which is located above Sai Baba's room and the women went to a nearby Bed and Breakfast.
On Saturday morning, the youth who slept at the Ashram woke up at 7am and had a hearty breakfast. They sang the Suprabhatam, Victory then led them into meditation and finally they sang Bhajans. After a short break, they started a wonderful workshop entitled "The Other is Me" led by Giovanna Battaglia and Paola Cappabianca. It was about service and it was a great learning experience for the youth. They also had a great time, thanks to interactive games that helped them understand the concepts related to Seva activities. In the morning they started with the head, or thought, and in the afternoon they discussed the hand that corresponds to the action, and last but not least the heart, the feelings. The way they see it, it is an experience that must be lived by each person to progress internally, and they felt it was very much worth it! After a delicious lunch and a short nap in the afternoon, they resumed the workshop and it’s interactive sessions which lasted until 5.30 pm.
The theme was concerning service; on how to do it and how to live it, continuing the aspects related to the hands (actions) and the heart (feelings). In the first part, they followed the slides and the explanation of games that helped them delve deeper into the understanding of how they should behave towards another person. In the first game, their confidence was tested: they had to take turns and fall backwards without looking behind them, trusting that four people would catch them. The youth then moved on to a larger room and participated in another game, this time to practice attention: they had to mirror themselves with a partner and then, in turn, copy the other's movements. The last game represented their actions and they learned empathy because they had to take turns in tying a cloth over their eyes while two people had to protect them from others while they simulated being in a metro train. In this part of the workshop they understood, above all, why they should be empathetic and available to others in times of need. In the last part of the workshop they focused on the heart, on how they should be kind and understanding towards one another. When doing service, they must think about making one another feel good without having selfish thoughts. After the explanation, full of simple but important examples, the main message was that while doing service the youth must be true to themselves. An hour’s time was then dedicated to savour and contemplate the energy of the place in absolute silence while taking a walk around the property. Once the youth got back to the Ashram, they sang Bhajans (devotional songs). 15 minutes before dinner, they had a Questions and Answers session with Mr. Ampelio, the curator of the Ashram.
At 9.00 pm they watched "Choose Love", a documentary that emphasizes how love is a choice not only beneficial for oneself, but also for the relationship with others and the whole world. The documentary focused on forgiveness, on the experiences of certain people who found forgiveness even though they had gone through great suffering. They found peace and strength to go on, because it is useless to be tied to the past and give power to the negative experience, since the body is nourished by the emotions that are felt. In fact, he who forgives lives healthier and longer. The journey is not easy, it is long, but it leads to more and more awareness. The day ended at about 10:40 pm.
The next morning after breakfast, the youth sang the Suprabhatam and Bhajans; at the end of which Victory and Salvatore spoke about the next youth meeting. Before saying their goodbyes to the Casa del Divino Ashram, they rearranged the house and greeted Swami in His room. They were given vibhuti and fruit jam (of Sambuco) made from trees that grow in the Ashram. They then took a group photo in the garden and reluctantly left the Ashram. The youth went to the chapel of “Casa Papa Giovanni” and met sister Giovanna who told them the history of the place and her experiences with Swami. After that they went to the Basilica of San Francesco, where there is his tomb, and finally they went to pay their respects to Santa Chiara in the Basilica of Saint Claire. It was time for lunch and everyone ate the packed lunch prepared in the Ashram. It was a fantastic weekend that had something to offer to everyone who attended, the message of Sai Baba was passed on very well. These were unforgettable days of love and sharing. Over 35 youth will carry these unique moments in their hearts until the next meeting!