It begins! The time for adjusting to life abroad, life in a community, and life in Rome has come to a close. Now begins the inflow of family visits and the excitement of traveling on our own!
I had the opportunity to take part in a road trip adventure an hour out the city to the town of Subiaco. We arrived safely in the city, and ultimately to our final destination at St. Benedict’s monastery on the cliffs of the mountain. Keyword= Ultimately. The journey proved just as exciting as our final destination. We followed “montesteri” signs to the walking path, and from there we stayed on the pilgrimage path guided by faint white and red paint squares. This might explain why, when we finally reached our destination, we had no idea. Somehow, we decided to sweat our way through a trail up an additional mountain peak. The most unplanned, unexplained, and difficult leg of the journey proved to be the most rewarding. The view from the top cannot be captured by words. If I were to try to explain what I saw from the top of the mountain, I would say that before my eyes was a undeveloped river valley fading slowly into the background, flanked by rolling hills, and covered by the largest sky I have ever seen.
We recognized that, undoubtedly, the hand of God had guided us to, not our destination, but His! We finally turned around, retraced our steps down the mountain, and curled around the bend to find the monastery. Inside, the frescoes, the chapel, and the cave of St. Benedict (where he stayed in solitude for 3 years) were a breathtaking testament of Beauty. However, looking out the sides of the cliff, down to the river and across the mountain peaks, smelling the grass clippings and fresh labor of the monks, and hearing the sounds of birds, captured Beauty in an entirely different way. And sharing these moments with 4 other positive and happy young women, priceless! There definitely are some things money can’t buy.
After spending weekends together with the full Bernardian clan, having a free weekend was truly an adjustment. Though sad to be away from most of the group, small-group travel ended up being an unexplainable bonding experience. The best part, each and every person in the house was genuinely interested in the weekend travels and tales of each other! Sharing the joys and mishaps, jokes and memories has been almost as exciting as the experience itself.
Although, it can be difficult to capture Assisi, Florence, Pompeii, Sorrento and the Almalfi coast, Paris, London, and skiing in the Swiss alps with just words and pictures. It is just one of the many blessings about being in a community!
This period of bonding and adjusting is wrapping up, and before you know it, we will be in the heat of tourist season, Easter, and spring break. Just in case the day-to-day was starting to get repetitive, our city and our schedule is bound to change right before our eyes. I am already noticing the first sign of tourists: herds of of wide-eyed non-Italians with manual Canons around the neck, following one individual holding a vibrant flag. Spring break plans, anyone? I’ll be catching a plane to Prague, then back to Rome for Easter, then off to Barcelona and Sevilla. (Not to rub it in, but it sure beats Daytona and the Dells 🙂 ) The excitement of what lies just ahead forces me to reflect on just how fast the time has really gone! It’s time for a deep breath and a “thank-you” for the graces of this first month and a half. Perhaps a “slow-down” of the hands of time would also be appropriate. There’s so much left to see and so much left to do!!!
Thanks for the support from back home!
Love and Prayers!
Things to note:
– The walk to school is filled with much more than just world famous monuments. Ask the ladies, the spring collection window-shopping is an exciting change of pace.
– Don’t be dismayed at the sight of Italian youngsters better dressed than half the American population. (Picture a 6-year old brunette in a long peacoat with leggings and a trendy pair of boots).
-Target, traffic laws, gum, fitted sheets and comfy towels, K102/ Cities97/ Pandora.com, grilled food, english, Mississippi River Road smooth running path, rollerblades, bonfires, lakes, sweatpants, The Grill, The Quad, and yes, Frey library….oh how I miss thee! Or, at least, come June, I know I will be looking forward to reuniting with these aspects of Minnesota! But it can wait until June!