Posts Tagged ‘Rome’

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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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At this time I’m casually looking at a calendar I bought at the Galleria Borghese in Rome last Summer. It is a very small thing, maybe 2 inches by 2 inches. Every month – the month and days written in Italian, go figure:) – features a small picture of a sculpture by one of the greats, Bernini.

The January – yes, I know it’s May, but bear with me – picture is one of David as he is in the action of slinging the pebble, or rock, that brought down Goliath. The thing that really strikes me is the moment in the piece. The muscles tensing before the throw underneath the smooth white marble skin. The stance of his body that is twisted, tensing, winding up for the throw because he only had one chance to get it right.

This was before David became king, when he was the youngest son of a family whose business was agriculture. A time when most of his days and nights had been spent in the field with his sheep, mastering the slingshot, singing to God. Little did he know that mastering the slingshot was going to bring down the most feared enemy of the Israelites, little did he know that he literally would have only one shot to bring down the giant. A bulls-eye of a space to hit, just a small space in Goliaths armor that bookies on the sidelines were probably giving a billion and one chance to hit its mark.

But hit he did, right out of the park, which just goes to show you that sometimes the mundane everyday life we all seem to live may be preparing us for that opportunity that God wants us to have, that one in a billion chance that God is preparing us to accomplish.

After all, in God’s world, where we live and breath and have our being, one in a billion happens all the time.

“LORD, You are my portion and my cup of blessing, You hold my future.”

Psalm 16:5

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