Monday, April 18, 2011

Europe 2011 - Rome -final days


Our final stop on our 10 day European adventure, did not disappoint. We toured Vatican City in the morning. I am a believer in this wonderful tour company. When we arrived at St. Peter's the lines to get into the basilica were somewhere in the neighborhood of an hour and a half to two hours long. Our guide, with her magic powers, took us directly to the front of the line through a separate entrance and voila! we were in! We had some line jumpers who pretended to be with us, they got busted.

Inside St. Peter's.
The company provided us with these wonderful things called "whispers." They allowed us to hear our guide wherever we were as she shared stories of the basilica and the Sistine chapel.

Here are the Bolanders inside St. Peter's.

These two photos are not the Sistine chapel - these were taken on the way to the Sistine chapel. This statue/memorial was just one of dozens upon dozens in this church that can hold - are you ready? up to 60,000 people.

You are looking at a terrible picture of a portion of the Sistine chapel. Terrible, because it is a contraband photo and I am a rule follower. And also because I took this without looking through the camera in order to appear as though I was not taking a photo and I think, in so doing, I developed a rash from the stress of knowing I intentionally broke a vatican rule.

I kept waiting for someone dressed in black with an earpiece to jump out and take my camera away.
Eric Bolander, Jordan Ghiglia and Joel Grette pose for a picture in St. Peter's square.

It is hard to capture the grandeur of this place.

This was unexpected - at least for me. You won't find a lot of Protestant churches with their pastors laid out like this.


We ate at a wonderful little deli and enjoyed a bit of shopping before heading on to the Colosseum. This is really what I came to Rome for.

This, and the gelato.
I am finally seeing, with eyes of my own, the places I have taught about for the past twelve years, off and on. I can't adequately express my thanks for this opportunity.

To see the place that claimed so many for entertainment - the now unacceptable death sports offered as a whim for the people, and I wonder have we changed that much? Yes - we no longer offer death games but the price our entertainment extracts from us often dehumanizes image bearers and we go numb so we don't have to think of the cost.

My thoughts of course go to those hunted in the bloody sport, but they also, more often than not, turn to those observers who fed the hunger with appetites that could only be filled with blood. And when those appetites could not truly be filled with the blood of the wicked, they fed on the blood of the innocents.

And this was a day out.

"Honey, let's gather up the kids and swing by and pick up your parents. Oh - I'll make sandwiches and those deviled egg things with the pickle relish you like so well and I'll see if your mom can bring some of her coleslaw and then let's hit the games. If we hurry we still have time to catch the lions and I heard they were releasing an entire family out there today. But we have to get the lead out or we won't get good seats!"

And these - we - the human race -the blood lusters -are the ones Christ came to free, to save, to bless with grace unfathomable.

All is grace undeserved.

Here's my girl - a living statue in the Colosseum. And we praise the God who gives all good gifts. And remember His gifts, even the hard gifts of ages past, are always good.

Perspective often requires a shift in positioning.

And my lips pray silent through hot tears, "please help me remember this truth." Because I know I am a grace-forgetter.

The Arch of Constantine.

The Forum:

According to tradition this is the prison of St. Paul.

The remains of the temple of the Vestal virgins.

The pantheon
We enjoy a delicious meal after a long day of sightseeing.

Jim and I at the Trevi fountain. We took a Rome by night tour that was fabulous! We also had the most amazing gelato in the world - with flavors like honey, chocolate meringue and whiskey.

Here you have it - the end of the trip. And yet, it is only the beginning in many ways. Travel broadens our experience and our understanding. It gives us eyes to see what we didn't know we missed along the way. And this, maybe, helps explain why I am so passionate about student travel. I believe if we truly enter in to our experience we cannot remain unchanged - travel creates the environment that offers fertile soil for soul's hard work. Sometimes the work is in the reflection later - but I believe there is always work done, if we enter in.

Thanks for coming along for the journey with me. Next trip 2013 - wanna come?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Florence and Assisi - Europe part 3

Florence! This was probably my favorite city of all (Assisi was a close second). This is the Duomo!
We snapped some pictures on the famous Ponte Vecchio.
Hailey and Joel

We are all very excited because we have just located the memorial to Dante. I can't express how excited we are here! In this same church we also discovered the tombs of Galileo and Michaelangelo too! This was our first stop in Florence and we happened to duck into this church and discovered this wholly by accident- a service was going on in another part so we had to be quiet.
Perseus slaying Medussa.
David - I must say we learned so much from our local guides on this trip. It was fascinating to learn about the relationship between the ruling Medicci family and Michaelangelo and some of the ways Michaelangelo expressed his feelings about the Mediccis in his art work. The local guides were very well educated and had a real love for their cities.

The Duomo is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen.
Here we are at dinner with some of the other travelers in our group, including our wonderful tour director, Ali. The people we traveled with were just fantastic!

We enjoyed a nice stroll back to our hotel after dinner.

Of course, we had to make a gelatto stop.

Florence was such an amazing city. I particularly loved it because of the accessibility. We walked absolutely everywhere. We toured the Pitti Palace, (formerly the home of the Mediccis) which is now a museum, and sat in the gardens. The weather was perfect - in the high 70's. We roamed little back streets and walked through more churches and cathedrals than I could shake a stick at. We enjoyed free time in the afternoon which really gave us the opportunity to explore on our own. Hailey decided to follow a little cobbled street to see where it led and wound up finding the house of Galileo. Let me repeat. She found Galileo's house! She kept walking and found an open door, and remembered that our guide said, "if you find an open door, walk in" (I think she was speaking about cathedrals, but no matter) Hailey wandered in and found a back entrance into the Boboli gardens.

Florence is remarkable. I can't wait to go back!

The next day we were on to Roma! Our guide had a little surprise for us and we made a wonderful stop in Assisi.

Jordan, Joel, and Jim

Welcome to Assisi!

Assisi is a little village that remains virtually unchanged - which is what made it so special.
One of the beautiful basilicas you can visit in Assisi.

The temple of Minerva! We went inside - it has been converted into a church.

We hiked to the top of the hill. The views were beautiful!Eric, Joel, Hailey, Jim and Jordan

Penny and Charis
Enjoying a little pizza!

Here I am with Hailey and Jordan
Beautiful Assisi!