Posts Tagged ‘Pompeii’

Usually I don’t write anything about world events. And, it’s not because I don’t notice, see or care about what happens in other parts of the world.

I actually look at world news before I look at local news, and much to the dismay of some of my friends, I typically know more of what’s going on abroad than I do with the news-makers in my own backyard (part of this might because they are extremely dysfunctional and, in the past, I covered their going-ons for so long it’s like I know the story before it’s written).

Regardless, the news, the world news lately has been filled with human tragedy and pain to the point that there is no overstating it. Riots-shifting governments-shifting alliances-economic meltdown-housing depreciation-joblessness-earthquakes-floods-tsunami’s-radiation exposure, I could go on and on. But, the words themselves don’t draw an accurate picture, it’s the photographs and video that do.

They put a face to the faceless, sometimes a name to the nameless, a voice to the voiceless. Love it or hate, the new media has given us a way to see what we would never see before, to hear what we have never heard before, to react to what we see and lend our help because once you’ve seen, it’s almost impossible to sit back and do nothing.

Solomon said there’s nothing new under the sun, and, in the world, just like in my little backwater neck of the woods, that is the order of the day.

I went to Pompeii a couple of years ago, and the thing that struck me was that around the time that Pompeii was being destroyed by the lava flow from Mt. Vesuvius that encapsulated a city of 20,000, which was very large for the ancient world, the Temple in Jerusalem was being destroyed. Everything looked to be happening at once, on once side of the Mediterranean more than one city was being destroyed by a natural disaster, on the other a religious place of worship was being destroyed by the hands of man.

It didn’t matter if the tragedy was natural or man-made, the fall-out was the same, emotional devastation.

Our world is much smaller now, we see the the floods in Queensland, we see the pain in Japan, we see the threat of radiation fall-out and its effects for years to come, and yet, the pain that we see is just a small portion of what the Living God sees.

He is the one who sees before time, during time and after time. He sees the pain, the grief, the loss of every person on this small green and blue ball whether they know Him or not. He is moved to compassion for the hurting and the desolate, shouldn’t we, who claim to be His followers, be the same?

“You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.”

Psalm 56:6


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It wasn’t too long ago that my son and I were talking about possible vacation destinations. Vacations are wonderful little getaways not only for the body, but for the mind as well. They’re a chance for all of us to take a break from our regular lives even if it’s just for a little while.

In today’s economic climate, not very many people seem to be going on all out vacations. They seem to be taking little weekender trips, that cost less but still give the opportunity to get away for a little while.

So we sat, going over one vacation destination and another when my son said let’s go to Rome. Now, I went to Rome last year when he was at summer camp, and, of course, the times being what they are two trips to Rome on consecutive years is not a feasible vacation alternative.

At this point, I’m thinking more like, down the street.

When I told him that’s not going to work this year, a wave crossed over his features that could only indicate a question was coming. But, it wasn’t what I thought it would be, which would have been ‘why?’

No, he asked me what my favorite part of my trip to Rome was.

There was no hesitation in my answer. My favorite part of my trip to Rome wasn’t in Rome at all, is was down the southern coast.

‘Pompeii,’ I answered registering the look of surprise that settled on his fetures.

‘Why Pompeii?’ he asked that while the questioning look again settled on his features even more firmly.

Why Pompeii? That is actually a huge question, that for me, has a myriad of answers.

Pompeii was much larger than I had anticipated. Not just an archeological ruin, it was an actual city that you could get lost in without a roadmap. Graffiti showing who the biggest, baddest gladiators were could be found carved on walls. Frescoes in the homes of the wealthy looked like they had just been painted.

And the bodies, you can’t not mention the bodies, that were strewn in postures that indicated they were protecting their loved ones, that they knew they would die at any second, they knew they couldn’t get away.

And that really is what struck me about Pompeii. The people. They knew what was coming. They saw the smoke. They heard the roar. The smelled the acrid ash. They knew they couldn’t get away.

Many didn’t even try, some of them pulled their loved ones near in a last embrace their faces peaceful. Some were left in their poses of panic as the lava flowed over them, faces showing agony and terror.  And some, they bent down, crouching low, hands folded in prayers to gods that couldn’t save them.

They were praying to gods who couldn’t save them.

In my short time in Pompeii, I never saw any indication that there was any worship of the one God who could save them, either in this life or the next. He just wasn’t around as far as I could see.

And, maybe that’s what really struck me. Just two years after Pompeii was covered over by lava, the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. It probably looked like the world was going to end, and yet, people then, as people do now, were bowing down and praying to gods who couldn’t save them.

Things have not changed so much in the last couple thousand years. Even today, with the world unfolding the way it is, people are praying to gods that can’t save them.

“Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.”

Psalm 68:20 (NIV)

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