This weekend I traveled back to Norcia. It is a little medieval town in the valley surrounded by mountains. Fr. Carola took us there last week. I was really missing snow and needed some time to get out of the city before my family comes tomorrow. This was the perfect opportunity to rest up after a busy week of papers and tests, and before I start into tourist mode again!
I left Saturday afternoon, took a train and bus, and in just three hours I now look at an Italy much different from Rome! Norcia is perched just at the bottom of a valley surrounded by mountains with snow on the top! Being a Wisconsinite, I will admit I miss snow here (although the crazy snowstorms going on back at home I know I would not regret missing after being there for a few days).
My day was pretty relaxing. I stayed with the Benedictine nuns that are there. I got my very own “cell” to sleep in (convents call their rooms cells, which really aren’t creepy like you’d normally think of a cell. It just means it is your own little place to go to). They let me join them for their prayers, and otherwise I was on my own.
Saturday I started out on the big adventure of climbing a mountain. I set off about noon, bundled up because it was so cold in the valley. It took about an hour for me to get to the base, and I passed horses and beautiful little houses perched below the mountains. Then I started the great task of scaling up the mountains. Warning: I would not try this on your own. I am pretty sure Fr. Carola would not have approved. I started off on a path but eventually the path stopped…but I just kept scaling up. It was amazingly beautiful. I don’t even really like heights, but it was something about the freedom of being on the mountain and the beauty that surrounded me that kept me going up (and the fact that I wanted to beat the other people who had climbed it last week…which I’m pretty sure I did!).
Climbing that mountain reminded me of what Fr. Florian, a great priest here, said to me about following God’s will. You may not always see what is way ahead of you, but in order to climb you can only look at what is right in front of you. And this is very true, because every time I tried looking way ahead or even turning around, I really had to first focus on stopping and steadying myself in order to feel secure. Even so, at points I was in the thicket of trees I couldn’t see the top of the mountain, but I knew it was there. We just have to trust in God that He obviously knows what He is doing, and that we are just supposed to trust Him and move ahead in faith.
It was a beautiful climb, and honestly I’m quite amazed I got back. Going up is easier than going down for me. While going down is faster, it always kind of scares me, especially since it was so snowy up there.
I made it back for evening prayer with the monks, and a restful night of 11 hours of sleep. That day really wore me out! But it was a wonderful adventure to have and now I await my family to get here in a few hours!
Have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Happy Incarnation in…2 days!
God love you!
Life here is moving pretty quickly. It’s been almost a month since my last update, and we only have about a month left of the semester!
December involved a lot of traveling for the group. The great thing about studying in Europe is that so much is all so close, and most air travel is very very cheap. The first weekend I had a friend who is studying in Winchester, England visit for the weekend. It was so much fun to show her around. Also, it made me re-realize how amazing this city is! It’s funny how things like the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum become so trivial because we walk by them every day, but with a fresh pair of eyes, it caused me to slow down and really look and what was before me. This is history right before my eyes!
Other students had the privilege of traveling to various places: the Sound of Music tour in Austria, visiting parents working in London, Lourdes to visit St. Bernadette, Malta, Germany, and now over Christmas a group of the men even are able to be in Egypt! Also, for those not traveling out of the country, it has been a great time to explore the city more, in addition to various towns in Italy. Fr. Carola brought a group to see St. Maria Goretti’s house and last week brought us to Norcia, a medieval town in Italy in the valley of mountains. There is a Benedictine monastary there with a wonderful group of monks we were able to pray with.
It’s very exciting to hear everyone’s stories and how they survived their travels out of the country. God blesses us so much!