A Friend Writes: in my last post, I wrote that the hills of Tuscany, up and down which my dad and I would be riding bicycles for a week, would be “gentle.” I was wrong. They were anything but gentle. In fact, they were really difficult. Some climbs were 5-6 miles long. My legs were not happy, but it did mean that we could eat whatever we wanted given all the calories we were burning. The Tuscan cuisine is second-to-none–everything is so fresh and delicious.
The Tuscan countryside, resplendent with olive trees and Chianti vineyards, was the most breathtaking place I’ve ever ridden. What a gift to be there with my father. Here is the town of Lecchi, population 80, where we stayed, and a photo of the landscape:
One of the best parts of the cycling tour of which we were a part was the opportunity to see some cultural sights. One day, our group of 12 traveled into the ancient city of Siena. This photo was taken just inside the city walls next to the church where Catherine of Siena worshipped.
Catherine (1347-80) lived quite a life. As a child, already she was recognized as a mystic. She became a Dominican nun known for her visions and contemplative devotion. But she was also someone in whom Mary and Martha, contemplation and action, were fused together. She courageously attempted to broker peace among warring states in Italy. Her faith inspired her peacemaking and diplomacy. While in Siena, I prayed in Catherine’s home (now a church) and in the church in which her relics (including her skull!) are located. It was very powerful to just be still before the Lord in those holy places.
Sabbatical update: previously, I wrote that Carol, the boys and I would soon be heading to Hawaii. Some of you may have scratched your heads and said, “Wait a minute, I thought they were going to Italy and England.” Back in April, when we were still planing the sabbatical (and hadn’t booked anything yet), the Killeen boys called a family meeting. They patiently explained to us that while we (Mom and Dad) really wanted to go to Europe, they had something else in mind: learning to surf in Hawaii.
Carol and I almost fell out of our chairs. Going to Hawaii was about the farthest thing from our minds, but we immediately grasped that God was up to something. After months of plotting and planning and managing every little sabbatical detail, I think this was God’s way of saying: “Aloha. Chill out and rest in me rather than all of your plans.” We looked at each other, laughed very hard, and concluded: “I guess we’re going to Hawaii.” I write to you from the island of Kauai, which is astonishingly beautiful. More pictures and stories to come soon.