I’m lucky to have recently spent 2 1/2 weeks living in the small town of Orvieto, a city on a hill in Italy. The experience was beautiful and emotional in many ways. I saw a lot of politically and spiritually important sights, traveled to Rome, Florence, Siena, and Assisi, got to know the cafe and shop owners in Orvieto, drank cappuccinos, ate gelato (daily, I might add), and build lasting friendships. I was particularly impacted by the professors and built some lasting relationships with them as well, which I will share more about later. For now, I want to give a general overview of my trip, and then I will share more specifics over the coming months.
I’m currently sitting at the airport in New York, awaiting my flight to Cincinnati which has been delayed for the millionth time. There is no better time to reflect on a trip than when your flight has been delayed for nearly 24 hours, right?
Roughly 32 of us (professors, spouses, friends, and students) spent time living at San Lodovico, a monastery in Orvieto, while we traveled to various cathedrals and museums learning about art and religion during medieval times. We began our morning with prayer in the chapel located inside the monastery.
We spent time in studio classes learning to sculpt with Fuller Seminary’s artist in residence, Chris Slatoff. I particularly loved these classes and discovered a love for sculpting that I didn’t know existed. Hours flew by and I learned I actually had the patience to work on one small thing for a long time.
We also got quite a bit of free time, and we all spent this in different ways. I spent a lot of time reflecting on what I felt God was clearly telling me (which I won’t I share at the moment, since I am still discerning what is the next step to take). I will say that I feel God has called me to big things that I am financially incapable of doing on my own – and I now feel it is okay to use school loans to do these things. I’m just trying to figure out where in the world I am being called (location-wise) and when (sometime this year).
I typically did this over a cappuccino and pastry at one of three coffee shops – Blue Bar, Montanucci, or Capitano del Popolo. I think Montanucci wins for having the best pastries and beautiful patio seating, but Capitano del Popolo had the best coffee and coolest decor.
It seems to me that God calls us to the places we feel the least comfortable, at what we feel are the least opportune times.
Does anyone else feel this way?
I was significantly more impacted on this trip than I expected, and I think it will take me a while to process everything. Which is fine, because I still have seven more weeks of classes online with the people who went on the trip (the classes: Medieval Art & Religion, The Art of Worship & Prayer). I’m thankful I get to discern with other people who were significantly impacted as well.
We also spent a lot of time learning about the saints – particularly Catherine of Siena, Julian of Norwich, and Francis of Assisi. Their lives were a blend of piousness (perhaps overly and dangerously pious) and servitude, creativity and visions. I was really impacted by a stained glass window in Siena in San Domenico, the cathedral where the head and finger of the saint is on display. Unfortunately, I can’t find a picture of it online and I wasn’t able to take one (pictures were not allowed), but I remember it was a vivid purple with three different scenes of Catherine with Jesus. The scene I remember was Jesus on the cross serving Catherine communion. I want to recreate something like it with plexiglass and paint for a final class project… hopefully my memory will serve me well 🙂
There is a quote from Catherine I believe to have learned firsthand from this trip:
“It is the nature of love to love as much as we feel we are loved, and to love whatever the one we love loves.”
I certainly learned I was loved and could be loved by people who barely know me. This made me feel comfortable sharing intimately and pouring love in return. I’m looking forward to reflecting more intimately on my time in this beautiful place over the months to come.