When in Rome, do as the Romans doSaint Ambrose
My Flight to Rome took me through Philadelphia. I arrived next day. Tired, I slept the rest of the afternoon through the evening into the night. Refreshed I awoke next day six hours ahead of the United States.
My first order of interest was to visit the Vatican. To give thanks and commit the rest of my stay to the Lord most high. Afterall I still didn’t know the intent of my trip.
My mind wondered to my visit to Paris with my daughter. Where was the Eiffel Tower? How could we get there? It was almost nightfall, and we were not sure where we were heading. Ask. We did, but most didn’t speak English or were reluctant. Off the train, around the bend and there it stood majestic!
I reflect on that day in Paris as I headed out to find the Vatican in Rome. As the saying goes When in Rome do as the Romans do. They trek. So I trekked. The Problem was I didn’t know where I was trekking to. The hotel’s front desk said it was 15 minutes away from their location. Of course I could handle that trek. But after walking, walking, walking I still couldn’t find it. Thirty minutes later still walking steadily taking pictures of Rome’s dynamic architecture and views of the historic city, I became curious wondering if I was walking in the wrong direction.
The memories of Paris flooded back. Where is it? Don’t know. I finally asked a guy preparing to welcome lunch guests at one of the common outdoor cafes. Around the corner he replied, speaking very little English. I proceeded. No signs. Made no sense anyway because I didn’t speak the language. Pronunciations differed but I thought that at least I would see the name somewhere if it was close.
Ten minutes later I saw a young woman and a nun get out of a taxi. Hmmm good person to follow, right? Yet still I hesitated. Waited a bit then a few minutes later saw the nun down the road walking hastily amidst the crowd. I guess it was time to follow that direction as they disappeared. Slowly I walked. Down to the road’s end.
Suddenly what appeared was the sunlight that illuminated the vastness of an arena. A new world opened. Reminded me of Roman soldiers that I read about in the Bible and reminders of movies I had seen. Like many others, I sat on a curb to rest tired feet. Took pictures as keepsake to share with my girls. Drank water then headed to the long lines that winded up to the entrance of the cathedral. This was the start of Winter with limited tourists, I can’t imagine what it would be like during summer’s busy season and I am not interested to find out. So I determined to stand in line. Heck there’s nothing more planned for the day. I might as well wait in the line for an hour or 2.
Surprisingly the line moved at a good pace and I was eventually inside. Mesmerized by the beauty and unique artistry of the architecture, visitors’ eyes were drawn upward. Yet the interior was filled with the sense of being in a holy place. Traveling solo, I tried to take selfies which were mostly crooked but that didn’t stop me.
I walked to the holy sanitarium where no photos were allowed. I proceeded. In that small space it was reserved for prayer. I sat filled with innate holiness and emptied my mind of everything I had in my heart.
- Prayers for the future.
- Prayers for my two girls together and alone.
- Prayers for family
- Prayers for friends. One by one I named them.
I prayed until all I had left was peace that he had heard my cry. Thanksgiving followed with praise for my obedience to follow his lead.
In that moment as the amazing artistically carved figure of Christ on the crossed looked down at me and others in the silence of that sanctuary, I felt the journey was accomplished because I had obeyed. Hmmm what if that was the reason he drew me there?