Sunday, June 22, 2014

Peace like a river...or lagoon

Oh Dios, me ensenaste desde mi joventud, y hasta ahora he manifestado tus maravillas. Salmo 71,17

Pablo escribe a Timoteo: Persiste tu en lo que has aprendido. 2 Timoteo 3,14

De boca y corazon load al Dios del cielo, pues dionos bendicion, salud, paz y consuelo. Tan solo a su bondad debemos nuestro ser; su santa voluntad nos guia por doquier. Martin Rinckhart

Yesterday was certainly full of manifest marvels.

Stefano and Monica rented a little motorboat and took us everywhere tourists don't go. I can understand their weariness of endless rolling suitcases, a veritable uninterrupted undulating  river flowing past their bedroom window, day and night, two blocks off the Grand Canal. Giovanni was relegated to the neighborhood library, as he attempts to cram a lifetime of education, including Latin and Art History, into three six-hour written tests and one oral exam in front of seven professors. He is a little tired.

We first circled Venice proper, with a punctilious nod towards St. Mark's, but with a more detailed run through the Armory, the shipbuilding zone that once encompassed one fifth of the city. Then we cut out across the lagoon, past the cemetery island conveniently located across from the hospital, traipsed through St. Peter's Church, and then rode over to an island filled with gardens and a huge farmhouse now recast as an informal summertime restaurant where we ate freshly gathered-from-the-lagoon octopi, prepared in every imaginable manner with sides of squash blossom risotto, heaped about with fresh eggplant, tomatoes and artichokes from the backyard. Artichokes were in such abundance that their flowers decorated the tables and were available for sale as bouquets. Imagine that, Mr. Alan Voelkel.

Then off to an island monastery founded by St. Francis, Isle of the Desert, a simple structure available for personal retreats, tucked in amongst bountiful gardens and the always pointing upward cypress trees. Thus it is not a physical desert, but a place of spiritual solitude to seek His voice, and His alone.

Past a tree-infested Boy Scout Island where Stefano led so many troops camping, to a colorful fishing village famous for its woven lace. Here we tied up and visited yet another one of Stefano's friends and his new restaurant, where he not only creates beautifully presented seafood, but he painted the canvases on the wall and the dishes on the table as well.

Then we roared across the water to quickly splash cold water on our sunburned noses before walking into Free Art Night, where dozens and dozens of galleries, palaces, and installments were open to yet another undulating river of people, Venetian art patrons, flowing past yet one after another marvel of creativity, of beauty, or at least, of interest.

And the point of all this is that every good thing comes from the Father of Lights, with Whom there is no shifting shadow.

And It is He who guides me, He who has taught me since my childhood. Nicole's Scripture reading this morning were those so familiar verses from Philippians four, claimed by me the dorky eight-year-old, which now form a variety of my internet passwords...if you do this you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.

And during mass this morning, in the Campostrinis' 16th century church where I was indeed surrounded by many visible clouds of witnesses, God reminded me that I am only to ask for today's daily bread. He is enough for today, faithful, true and full of manifest marvels.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Afterwards Stefano's father greeted us, the tall Americans, and took us for a glass of proseco,    before we dashed home for a quickly tossed together salad, sautéed freshly caught little sharks from the sea, and yet another round of the Sardinian goat cheeses. Now we are on the train for Bologna and Lugo, to pack up a few of our belongings unfit for the Way, before continuing on our journey.

And certainly one thing I have learned, like the many who have traveled before us, is to travel lightly, for He is my provision, one day at a time, my daily bread: blessing, health, peace and comfort, far beyond what the human mind can comprehend. As I say goodbye to this beloved Campostrini family, so kind, so generous, so open, who could have ever imagined?

He could, from the beginning of time.

And as Paul reminded Timothy: May you continue in what you have learned.

Holy, holy, holy