I have returned from an extended trip to Italy, where I set out to seek God’s insight and reflections about a book I’ve been toiling over for many months. As the mornings rolled on, the straps of my backpack seemed like a smooth sling over my dainty shoulders, as I dipped my head to catch the belt of my bag crossing over my body. Each day was an adventure in search of the Author’s words for me. Chapters unfolded under the Florentine sculptures, the Tuscan sunsets and the towering rocks of Rome. I was encouraged by breathtaking brushstrokes, sounds of authentic instrumentals, sweet aromas lingering in the air, and the grand nature magnificent mountains, sublime statutes, and impressive ocean waves.
I have gleaned much about life, my life, that I hope to share with you over the following days. It was interesting and no happenstance I believe, that just before I took this trip, I was plagued with a triple threat; strep throat, bronchitus and pneumonia. The enemy was surely at work to prevent me from this ordained trip.
One important lesson I learned from the Italians is the art of enjoying each other. Rarely do they abide by schedules or spin the wheels of their life around work. In fact, everything closes down from 12:30pm – 3:30pm and the entire country takes a nap or leisurely converses over coffee to calm down during the day.
This was pure pleasure for a people person like me. I found myself in smiles, striking up conversations with anyone I rubbed shoulders with. What a joy to hear tales of their journeys! It was in this moment I realized that the satisfaction I lack in the States is derivative of the selfishness I make my life out to be. My Monday through Friday consists of an office job, home, on a good day there’s also the gym/park, and every Tuesday I grab coffee with a girlfriend. Usually I save all other bonding opportunities for the weekend; by that time my soul is parched from being deserted all week.
I think we all may deeply be longing daily to connect, yet somehow don’t see people as a priority, like our jobs and home life. We mistake our schedules and career as the key to happiness, as if ‘getting ahead’ will end the disappointments and solve the deeper longing in our soul.
Before I set out for this cross country trip, my cell phone service mistakenly shut off my service. Remember those days before technology shrunk our communication to 140 characters? Those pastimes are over, but I can’t help but think about how happy my memories are of leisure afternoons, uninhibited by the demands we have created.
No wonder I struggle sometimes with a solitary life! I’ve made my days all about me instead of including others. What would happen to my heart if I made more of an effort to choose connection with others as much as I choose to show up at my job? Perhaps if I choose daily to make my life about others, the pleasure I will experience is the peace that satisfies these longings that plague my heart.