It’s a funny thing, living in one place for several months, and then returning back to the place you know as home. Everything seems the same, and yet somehow it is different. As a (very) recent re-entrant into the US of A, I find myself looking about and asking, “Did I ever really leave?” Of course the answer is always in the affirmative, but still these first several days after my departure from Rome seem strange—as if I simply lived another life for several months, and now I must return to life as it was—the only problem is, life isn’t as it was before.
These strange first days back home will pass, and life will regain a sense of normalcy, but the experience of living, studying, eating and praying in Rome for a period of four months (yikes!) will remain a part of me. I was recently speaking to one my fellow Bernardians about this very topic, and we agreed that it is a tremendous challenge to hang onto, and bring back some part of the Rome experience to share with family and friends here in the U.S. I think that the way one hangs onto such experiences is that they become integrated into the very fiber of one’s being. One might say that Rome has become, in a certain sense, a part of me, and now I must share that treasure with those around me by sharing myself.
So much has happened in these past four months. I’m still in disbelief that I had such a remarkable and life-changing opportunity. It will be the project of a lifetime to realize all the many blessings that I’ve received from living in Rome. I’m filled with gratitude for all those people who made it possible. Most of all, I’m grateful to God, who in His infinite generosity, saw fit to route my life’s journey through Rome and Europe for a short time. It is truly a gift undeserved—a grace. The challenges were many, the blessings were even greater in number, and the Rome experience has changed me—and consequently my life—forever.
Is there a better way to finish off a semester in Rome than by taking in a Roman sunset from the Dome of St. Peter’s? I think not. That’s what I call going out on top!