You know how you've done something or been somewhere, and you came away with the most perfect recollection...and then you planned to go back, and you were a little bit worried that the reality wouldn't live up to the memories you had?
I am pleased to say that Venice has lived up to all my memories.
There is nowhere in the world like Venice. I am sure you've heard that, but once you've been...you'll know its true.
I have written a blog about this city before, with all of the art and culture and beauty mixed with old world buildings and canals, and all of that was still magical.
The food...oooo, the food. Homemade pasta, pizza and gelato on every other corner, all more delicious than the last corner. As we had already decided, Ashley and I set out to try as many different kinds of pasta as we could while here. We have marked spaghetti, ravioli, tagliatelle, rigatoni, cannelloni, fusilli, lasagna, and pappardelle off the list. We plan to add to it in our next stops. Even Patrick, who is a self-proclaimed hater of pasta, ate, and enjoyed, spaghetti with meat sauce. He also ate at least 75 slices of pizza...maybe more.
The vendors are protective of their wares, and quick to tell us, forcefully, that everything is made in Venice, NOT in China. (They pronounce it "cheena.") Several times every day, we were told "All made in Venice. No Cheena."
We have added to our pile of luggage, with more gifts for our loved ones, and plenty of gifts for ourselves. Italian leather handbags, handmade lace, hand blown glass, local spices and candies, and so much more.
Tomorrow we leave for Florence, where we anticipate more of the same perfect food and architecture and merchandise.
The churches..I cannot even explain the over the top beauty of the cathedrals here. I walk into every single one we pass...and I stand in silent awe.
It strike me as something of note that we don't have churches in America like the ones they have here. The people of the Old World knew how to build a beautiful structure, ornately decorated, gilded with the most expensive and precious materials of the time, with walls several stories tall and soaring, expansive ceilings. Its truly breathtaking. But after taking it all in, my eye always returns to the lit candles, each one representing a prayer.
I've turned those candles over and over in my mind, together with the glorious majesty of the buildings they are inside...
And I wonder. Did the builders think they needed to build something worthy of housing the presence of God? Were they trying to make Him seem more or less approachable? Do the people who come in, and light candles, feel that they can only offer that prayer in that place, because its so truly wonderful that it must be where the presence of God resides?
I have stood inside at least 5 cathedrals since we've been here. And every time, I have pondered the simplicity of those tiny candles, those flickering lights, and the overwhelming beauty surrounding them.
"Lord," I whisper, "I see the glory of You, everywhere. I see You in the beauty of these creations...and I see You in the painted skies outside. Cause me to burn like these candles, simple and unassuming, but lifted before You in faith, believing that everywhere I am, there You are. Will You show Your glory in my life, more and more?"
We are off to bed, to hopefully sleep off the exhaustion of soaking up the wonder of this city. We will drag ourselves to the train station early in the morning, to beat more paths to more places.
And we will take the glory of God with us. Because He is IN us. And knowing that He is as beautiful IN US as in those cathedrals...oh, that is more perfect than even Venice itself.