Tuscan meanderings

I’m quite behind in keeping up to date with everything we have been doing so will do a few mainly photographic entries in an attempt to catch up. This is the downside of packing so much into a holiday! 

The beautiful town of Assisi, home of St Francis was our next stop. As in the Sistine Chapel  there was no photography allowed inside. Instead we walked, marvelled, and listened to our guide tell the story of an amazing man whose Christian walk is as powerful and challenging today as it must have been all those centuries ago. There is something that lifts the soul as you wander this ancient hilltop city, a sense of the continuity of the family of faith.





Then an overnight stay in the beautiful town of Perugia. We decided to skip the organised tour of the town and had a peaceful evening watching the sunset while enjoying cocktails.




One of my favorite places so far has been our next stop, the hilltop town of San Gigminano. Just ancient and beautiful. I can’t explain how content it makes me feel to spend time visiting these towns, wandering these cobblestone streets and seeing the sun-soaked buildings. Coming from such a young country it’s as though I have been starved for this feeling of history and antiquity. We only had an afternoon but had plenty of time to sit in the sun, eat wild boar ragu and smooth creamy gelato. 







Perfect afternoon

Sometimes you have one of those moments where the world is so beautiful it actually takes your breath away.12063505_10208887041354127_1196061294114330455_n

We spent the end of the Easter weekend at our family bach at Waihi Beach. People who have visited this spot know it’s one of the best kept secrets in NZ – stunning beach, a sense of being completely cut off from the bustle of the big city; but with fabulous food and coffee options and great broadband access. It’s our favourite place to be. Usually over the summer we head down as many weekends as possible but with so many things going on back in Auckland we hadn’t been there since mid-January. The teenagers over from the UK came with us to get a much-needed dose of the last of the hot weather before autumn truly sets in.

I decided to go and sit on the beach by myself for an hour or so yesterday afternoon as I knew we were heading back home today. It’s a scene and feeling I know so well – warm sand, the roar of the endless surf, the beach deserted apart from the odd person walking their dog.I planned to read a book but I ended up transfixed by the beauty before me. My book was forgotten and I just sat there and marvelled at the perfection of what was before me.

Eventually I went down to the water and stood in the waves for about half an hour,
mesmerised by the view of an ocean that was both constant and ever-changing.The feel of the water, sand and sun was a balm to my spirit and soul, a moment of unexpected  joy and contentment. Just me and God’s creation.

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Lent musings #2

 

 

Another week of engaging with my Lent app and I am finding it a powerful way to re-focus on what is really important. The message of each daily devotion is not about me at all – no lifting me up, making me feel better about myself, no setting vision or discovering my purpose.

It’s a message that invites me to meet God in the desert places, the wilderness, the prison cell and to  linger there a while  if that is where He is speaking to me. It’s a message that  challenges me to look out, see beyond myself; to stand next to and reach out to the other, the stranger, the not-like-me.

Then as my day goes on, I am again immersed in the flow of social media, colourful, busy, exciting, enticing  me through endless memes and inspirational quotes to follow my dreams, have my best life now, believe for the impossible. I’m not sure about others but this often leaves me with a vague sense of dissatisfaction that my life is very mundane and ordinary, and that others are having much more exciting life adventures than me.

Jesus didn’t seem to say a heck of lot about personal fulfilment and I suspect at least   couple of the disciples might have had to lay their personal dreams down when making the decision to follow Him.

I saw a great tweet- “The Prosperity Gospel marketed to Millennials is not cars and money, it’s the fulfilment of personal aspirations.”(@DanielWhite). This really struck a chord with me (and I am way too old to be a Millennial). We continuously are encouraged to focus on developing ourselves: live that dream, realise our potential, take  that first step to becoming great, do something extraordinary.

Such a delicate balance between leading a life of meaning and purpose, ordinary though that might look; and  honing your life looks until it looks like the one on your Instagram account.

So I re-read the reflections for this day on my app.  And I get a glimpse of the Kingdom and the small but vital part I have to play in it. And I am content.

There may be more to learn by climbing the same mountain a hundred times than by climbing a hundred different mountains.

Richard Nelson
The Island Within

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