It's raining gatti e cani, chats et chiens, Katze und Hunde here in Switzerland. And there was just a wonderful crack of thunder that scared G. because she grew up in Davis, California where there weren't ever any thunderstorms. We went to Locarno today, a fairly sweet town on Lake Maggiore, a precise 14-minute train ride from my friends' little town of Verscio. Swiss trains, swiss watches.
I have been enjoying the service here in Switz. Lots of friendly, smiling, helpful people behind the counters. None of that sullen Italian treatment, the deigning to look up from the paper, the look of total confusion when you ask for something in not perfectly accented, but decent enough Italian. "Cosa? Non ho capito." It's not always like that, but it is often enough to warrant a little moan.
Yesterday was Ferragosto, the Feast of the Assumption, no, not a giant collective assumption that, say, everyone makes their train that day, but rather, the Virgin Mary's assumption, body and soul, into heaven. I like to picture her in her casual blue dress with white wimple, head cocked slightly to the right, hands extended low at her sides, palms forward, sailing up and out into the Great Blue Yonder.
My friends are nominally, their word, raising their kids in the Shin Buddhist tradition, and I thought it was important for them to know why all the stores were closed yesterday, so that they wouldn't get teased mercilessly for not knowing, like, duh!, every Catholic knows about Mary and her blue outfit and how she was Jesus's mom, though Joseph could never be sure, etc. So, I sat down in front of the computer with nearly 5-year-old Divine Miss M. and her heading toward 3 years old little brother L. and took the information superhighway to www.catholic.org. There we learned all about the Assumption as well as about various saints, their feast days, what they are patrons over, how gruesomely they died.
What the Divine Miss M. got out of it was that Mary, body and spirit, was in the sky yesterday. When her father left for work that evening she shouted to him, "Don't forget, Pa! Mary's in the sky!!!" Her mom is a bit worried and somewhat confused that her Jewish friend from Brooklyn is teaching her children about Catholicism. I also taught the children that the current Pope's favorite color is hot pink and that Paul means small.
All in all I think it was a very edifying day. Hallelujah!