Recently my husband, Richard, and I took an amazing trip to the Mediterranean. We had planned this trip for years. For us this wasn’t a vacation, it was TRAVEL. We were especially excited to visit Italy and Turkey, both rich in history and each uniquely different.
I had been to Italy and Turkey before, but I was excited to be with my husband so that I could experience everything through his eyes as a first-time visitor. We went to Pisa, Italy, to view the Leaning Tower, but instead I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the old church next to it. I think I knew God was working with me then, nudging me to direct my attention to the Church history. But I still had “stars” in my eyes as we walked the streets of Pisa and sipped cappuccinos.
In Rome we experienced a papal audience at the Vatican. We were awestruck by the attendance and reverence of the crowds in front of the basilica. It was hot outside, and there were thousands of people. The birds chirping and their wings flapping made even more noise. Later, we found an amazing tour guide to take us through the Vatican Museum to study Roman and Church history. Our small group of travelers from all over the world, followed an American guide through the Vatican Museum studying the influence of God’s works. Then onward to St. Peter’s Basilica, where we were awestruck by the history and art captured in one church. I saw women crying in reverence, people in prayer, but mostly I saw people come to revere the history of “The Church”.
In Turkey we visited Hagia Sophia. The Hagia Sophia museum is known for its artistic and architectural work. It was previously a Church and now a mosque. For us we found it interesting how the Christian artwork was right next to the artwork honoring Allah. Funny how both faiths can be in harmony on the walls. It made my heart and head wonder why we can’t see how history can lead us as people to live in harmony as well.
Our last stop was to the city of Venice, Italy. Richard and I were simply enchanted by the waterways through the city. As we strolled hand in hand through the most romantic city I have ever visited we stopped at an old Catholic church that offeried a place to sit and listen to beautiful classical music. Inside we were again awed by beautiful artwork. At the head of the altar was a magnificent sculpture of the Sermon on the Mount. Made of what looked to be mahogany and granite, you could tell the sculpture was hundreds of years old. Around the interior of the church were frescoes of the life of Christ from birth till death that literally took our breath away. It was the perfect ending for our trip.
I believe we started this trip with a true sense of adventure, open to whatever God wanted us to see. What I think happened is we were transformed into pilgrims, a physical and spiritual search for the origins and realities of our faith. Isn’t God good to allow history to be preserved so that we may understand our faith with real knowledge and hands-on reality?