Once a month as a team we carve out time for a “day with the Lord.” This is meant to be extended time seeking Christ in the midst of a demanding and often stressful cross cultural ministry environment.
I chose to take the train to Siena–a Tuscan town just 36 miles from Florence. One of the great joys of ministering in Italy is all the cool places that surround you. My day started out with some reading of Scripture on the train and a fair amount of journaling. It was a cool rainy spring day–as you can see from the top picture. This picture is from a sidewalk cafe on Piazza del Campo. It is a beautiful, huge piazza that is normally filled with tourists. But on this day the weather insured that I had it to myself. I sat under the umbrellas, drinking a cappuccino and reading about the faithfulness of God in the Psalms. I also read several short chapters out of a book called Devotional Classics edited by Richard Foster and James Smith. One devotion that is included is by Catherine of Siena who lived from 1347-1380 in this very town. She was the 24th of 25 children who became a Dominican nun at the age of 18. At the age of 21 she returned to her family and spent the rest of her life working among the poor. Somewhat strangely the Catholic church claims to have her thumb and her head on display in the cathedral that bears her name in this town. Who knows if this is true or not–I have seen both and it did not make me think any more or any less of Catherine. But her words on the Overflowing Love of God touched me.
Read and consider these words: (As from the mouth of God) “When my goodness saw that you could be drawn in no other way, I sent him (Christ) to be lifted onto the wood of the cross. I made of that cross an anvil where this child of humankind could be hammered into an instrument to release humankind from death and restore it to the life of grace. In this way he drew everything to himself: for he proved his unspeakable love, and the human heart is always drawn by love.”
I needed to be reminded of the love of God that day. There have been days here where I have questioned that love for me or for Italian students. But the cross–that single act–challenges completely my every doubt. The cross gave–gives me life. I stand in grace. I am drawn to it for daily strength.
I rode the train back to Florence–listening to praise music on my ipod–confident in the knowledge that Christ loves me–even me–even you!
P.S. The 2nd picture is of Piazza del Campo after the sun came out and the some of the tourists and Italian school field trips returned.