On that note, before the hard news, at least no one is in the hospital or even hurt. So we thank God for that blessing.
However, after a downpour in the morning's 15-mile stretch, three bikes were stolen in Lucca as we visited the Cathedral and had lunch. Fr. Bill's, and two of Bill Corbitt's bikes were locked to a public bike rack across from the police station and next to a children's playground. After a leisurely return from lunch in a gorgeous piazza, we hit a huge disaster as we saw only 1 lock & its 3 bikes. Our hearts sank as we stared at each other thinking what to do.
There was another (mixed) blessing: we saved the other bikes by about 20 minutes. As we were first speaking to the Police about the event, we watched 3 young men (gypsies based on their speaking different languages) walk up to the bicycles, snoop for a second, notice us, and try to cover their escape. Bill C. followed with a few others and took photos of them and their plate #. Then they got out and yelled at us saying we can't shoot pictures and even agreed to return to the police with us (in the US this would never happen - that shows they weren't afraid of getting caught). After they complain a bit, the police tell them to more or less be quiet and leave. We follow them for a bit but decide it's better not to continue. Afterwards, assuming we have no hope with the Italian police against a network of thieves who have little identification, we resign to the fact that we can only get the theft report and file insurance for a claim and reimbursement. Tomorrow the guys will go to Siena in the morning and buy new bikes. They probably won't ride for the day.
I am going to the airport to pick up my bike. I will be happy to see it, and will probably not let it out of my sight.
We are all struggling today with anger, shock, and a bit of devastation as our plans had to change quite drastically. It was in some ways more difficult because we saw the culprits. Usually this stuff is anonymous. How often do you talk to the man who robbed you and knows you can't do anything if he denies it? That somehow heightns the betrayal.
The hardest thing for me to grasp is the consciences of these men. I would have the worst feeling in my heart knowing that I had done that to someone, then come back and face them, seeing their pain, lying more to cover it up, and just walking away. That shows how much sin messes us up, and how we can lie to ourselves and corrupt our own hearts over time.
And now it sort of hits me: I have done that. This is practically the definition of human sin... and of divine forgiveness... something we are all struggling with at this point (I mean, of course, forgiving those thieves!)
Now at 9:00pm we are finally going to have Mass. I went earlier with Fr. Bill's sister Janet to get my bike. It's here! Now I need to assemble it. Sad to not be biking with the whole them, though.
Thank God we are all well. Pray for us!