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.
According to tradition this is the prison of St. Paul.
The remains of the temple of the Vestal virgins.
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?