21 hours ago
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
The bus was headed to Orvieto, a precious town sitting on a plateau of volcanic tuff in the Tuscan hills of Italy. The quaint town took my breath away as I stepped into the square. The narrow alleys stretched like fingers from the town center where the wonderfully gothic cathedral sat at its palm. The shops were filled with hand painted dishes and platters of the most beautiful reds and yellows. While most tourists were fascinated with the town's unique shopping and extensive system of underground caves, I was however drawn in by its simple cathedral. I took several steps backward, so as to quietly slip away from my group’s tour. I walked, slowly, back down the alley toward the cathedral, letting it grow bigger and bigger with every step that I took. Sitting atop the church was a steeple, reaching so high as if to point towards heaven. It was Sunday, and mass had started. I pushed on the massive church doors and was greeted with a cold refreshing breeze. I silently slipped in the back of the cathedral and onto the last pew. The angelic ring of voices sang out hymns of praise in the most beautiful Italian. The organ pounded through the rafters of the church and into the rafters of my heart, filling my insides with peace and joy. Those around me listened intently to the priest as he began his sermon, but I didn’t understand a single word. When his speaking came to an end, the church joined together to the recite the words that they recite each Sunday. Then the members of the church turned to those on their sides and stretched out their hands. A small Italian woman with long grey hair and a plain blue shawl turned to me, “La pace è con voi” she said. I didn’t know how to respond, so I simply nodded my head and smiled… “and also with you” I thought to myself, wishing I had the words. I had been in Italy for several days, a foreigner in a distant land, and it was this moment, sitting alone in the last pew, that I understood. It didn’t matter where I came from, what language I spoke, or what denomination I was… while I was so different from this little Italian church community, I had one thing in common with each and every one of the people there … we worship the same God ... and that was enough.