Pray? Multitasking for sure

So we’ve joined with three other families to visit the “big three” (Venice, Florence, Rome) all in one week with experienced guides–you could say we were outsourcing all the research and background reading necessary for even a basic understanding of what we were seeing. And the guide took his job seriously. In Venice–Doge’s Palace (good), gondola ride (fun) St Mark’s Cathedral (interesting), then Florence –the great art, (an awful lot in a short amount of time), the Duomo, the church of Santa Croce (all beautiful, all inspiring) but did I feel any spiritual connection? No, and I wanted to. But all I felt was the interest of a tourist. And then we took a side trip to Pisa for the kids, who wanted to climb the tower.
We walked by the cathedral. There was a service going on. We could only stand at the back, briefly, to see the interior. Then on to the Tower, the souvenirs, lunch. All that time I kept feeling that I should return to the cathedral. I’d seen a side entrance for “people who want to pray”, so, while others had dessert and coffee I excused myself and went back. I sat in a pew, and found myself in a moment of wordless prayer–you know, not the kind where you are asking God for something, or praising. Just a moment when in silence you feel a connection. It was a moment of peace, of comfort. It didn’t last long, for sure, and so I left, and returned to absorbing information, seeing the “sights”, remembering to buy gifts, watching out for the children, checking travel arrangements, all those individual things that make up a trip like this one. Multitasking.
Yet in the middle of all my activities, God had given me a moment. I don’t remember the name of the church (Cathedral of Pisa?) or any of the information about who designed it or when it was built. What I remember is that moment, when, in the midst of activity God gave me a nod, and a nudge, and a gift of a moment of prayer.
I think, in our busy everyday lives, perhaps we need more often to let God have a moment of our time.

The Eating is going well . . .

As is the love part. We love these children with all our hearts. They are a part of us, family. Just  as their mother is a completely different person than either my husband or me, yet raised in our home, these two are even more different. That’s why these trips alone are so essential to us; so that we can get to know them as who and what they are, not as what we think they are, or what their parents say they are. And, at 11 and 13, a good part of what they are–eating machines. As my husband has remarked several times already this trip–this army travels on its stomach, for sure, and when they are hungry, the nearest pizzaria had best watch out.  Fortunately, in Italy, there are, as my mother would say, a “gracious plenty” of pizza available.  Trying to upgrade their culinary tastes, we have introduced them to lasagna.  And tonight, in Assisi, another breakthrough. Eating at a restaurant recommended by Ricardo–story below–they at least tasted some of the spectacular pasta dishes on offer.

Ricardo–the proprietor of a shop we stopped in. Ricardo turned out to have spent his student years in Santa Monica and at UCLA, spends four months of the year on business in Santa Monica, and knows a few of the restaurant owners we know. Ricardo was genuinely pleased to meet people from his US  ‘hood. It was as if we were fast friends already, and immediately got us a table at a restaurant that was completely booked.   Now we all know that true friendships, true bonds, don’t come about instantly; and yet, his attitude was contagious. Perhaps, I wonder, if this is what Christian fellowship should be about–meeting other people who have one thing in common, a love of Christ, and then being willing and open to share that joy, regardless of the many differences in how we express it through our own cultures.

If we try, in our multitasking days, to allow one person that openness and grace, we might get a really good meal out of it.