No, this is not the 158th day of our trip. We are only here for five weeks. But as I sat in the worshipful fellowship of St. Mark's Anglican church in a ancient building (complete with frescoes, hanging lanterns, incense and bells), singing old familiar hymns and some recent choruses, I stopped to think of Steve Godbold, friend in captivity. Surely Palm Sunday for him was not the pensive and exhilarating (what a combination)remembrance of a Savior who is a Friend. We sang "My song is love unknown, my Savior's love to me" and when we came to the lines:
O my friend, my friend indeed,
who in my need, for me His life did spend.
I caught myself crying at the realization of the cost. Seeing pictures in abundance of his death, his deposition from the cross, his trial, his torture, and his resurrection, I am humbled anew that He was willing to pay such a humiliating price to save us all.
Steve had come to mind this morning in the quiet of my reading, when I also meditated on the death of a friend in Zimbabwe, Jens Mielke. I didn't know Jens well, but his wife, Sheila, was a friend whenever we visited and our kids know theirs. Jens died in a small plane crash last week. His life was a vital witness to a large community. Each of us has our small concerns. Yet God cares for us all as if He had no one else to care for. What a privilege to commend each other into His hands.
(He is looking out for you, Jarm, and Mario's passport so your footprints will land squarely in Paul's.)
Notes scribbled on a scrap of paper: remember to blog!
Bars are to be seen all over Italy and they mean COFFEE. I've never walked into so many bars in such a short time in all my life.
Last night Bell and I wanted to attend an organ concert on the other side of the river. We misread the sign and thought it was 6:30, but that was the mass after the concert. We had a hard time finding the church in the dusk because of the many huge buildings which all tend to look pretty much alike in the gloaming. I shook my head wondering how we could misplace a church so big that a small Mozambican neighborhood could easily fit inside! Hopefully we will manage a concert next Saturday.
Instead of the concert we roamed the busy streets full of other roaming folk. The cars must have realized that to drive at that time of night would surely be homicide, so there was almost no traffic. Seeing the brightly lit and open stores with thousands of people pouring in and out--it felt like Christmas, but not as cold.
We came upon Dante's house and the church where he first saw Beatrice (his inspiration for the Divine Comedy). It is surely the smallest church in the city, I am so glad it didn't get cleared away for something bigger. Brings a mighty big man down to my grasp.
We went home on Ponte Vecchio: a bridge with shops built along both sides. All the stores are gold, silver and jewelry shops. It is bright and glitzy. I loved the azalea japonica which every shop in the city has bought and planted in a huge stone jar outside the door. Even on the bridge. This city is awash with pink azaleas and it makes me love it all the more. Wish I could get an azalea to survive in Q.
There are even Macdonalds in this city. Three of them. America brings its food to Italy. Give me pasta, please.
Well, next time I hopefully will be able to tell you about Leonardo da Vinci's exhibit in the Michelangelo gallery.