"È Meglio Star Solo"
Don Candido spent his birthday,
as was his custom,
He cherished the people of his village,
truly he did, but sometimes
he just wanted to get away for a while.
It's not that they were bad people,
but they were a burden in some ways,
because like all people they had their sins
and the priest was the one
whose job it was to deal with those sins,
like a sin-eater or a scapegoat
carrying them away.
Don Candido knew all the sins
that the villagers had confessed,
from the venial to the mortal --
who had taken the name of God in vain,
who had fathered children out of wedlock,
who had stolen a keg from the brewer's shed
or a sheep from a neighbor's pasture,
who had killed a man in time of war
but not, strictly speaking, in battle.
Sometimes the knowledge weighed on him,
and once or twice a year he would go out
to speak with God in the wilderness,
just as Jesus had done before him.
È meglio star solo che mal accompagnato.
It is better to be alone than to be in bad company.
There were, too, his own shortcomings to consider.
Don Candido was not a man without sins or secrets.
He prayed that others need never know
the darkness in him, as he knew all of theirs --
from the petty aggravations to the deeper difference
that set him aside and on the path to priesthood.
Another year older, another year wiser,
he walked into the woods
and lost himself for a time in the silence
broken only by the sound
of that which God had made --
the sky and the trees, the running river,
the songs of the many sparrows.
These things were true in a way
that humans never knew,
touched as their lives were by sin.
For people, all truth was flexible,
like a reflection in running water.
In such a place, Don Candido
could more easily remember
that the world was as God made it
and therefore doubtless pleasing to Him
whether or not it made particular sense
to the mind of mortal man.
Refreshed and renewed,
Don Candido walked back to his village,
ready to serve again for another year.