I’m not one to linger in the past. Well, maybe I do fancy a good old jaunt down memory lane…
Every now and then I’ll look at my photos of my five months spent living in Italy. There are moments when I need to be reminded of the bold, clever smile of my host mom, Loredana, or see if the scoops of silky gelato were as big as I remember. Yep, they are.
While I sigh when flipping through pictures of the Arno and the rocky cliffs of the Cinque Terre, what I can’t help but pause on are the photos of me and my friends. I kid you not, in every picture, we’re not styling the latest Italian fashion (we were college students after all – not made of that kind of money, yet); we’re dressed in the biggest, most honest smiles you’ll ever see.
My favorite word is joy and when I see myself in Italy, there is nothing but pure JOY written all over my face.
So why there? What was it about Italy that brought such joy to my heart?
My skin never looked healthier. I never felt like I was lacking a hearty, delicious meal. I had Loredana’s yellow cake for breakfast in the morning -yes, it was cake … in the morning- and I ate every last crumb. Seems like a far cry from my usual oatmeal and flax seed breakfasts here …
But when I get to thinking about what was different over those five months, I realize that I sent up a big prayer to God when I stepped on that plane from Newark to Frankfurt. I asked that He take away my anxiety and stress that came with being so “healthy.” I told Him I would trust that the foods that He surrounded me with would nourish my body, mind and spirit, and that by eating up all those delicious meals, He would keep me healthy, strong and completely satisfied.
“Eat the gelato,” He told me.
“Take another piece of the lemon-sage chicken,” He gently whispered.
“Savor that fresh mozzarella, my sweet girl. Let it bless your body with energy and joy.” And it did. It really did.
I let go of fears of losing or gaining weight, of getting enough grams of fiber, of only eating dessert sparingly. I ate what I wanted. I walked, ran, skied, sledded, skipped, danced and swam with the fullness of joy that only He can provide.
So maybe the place is arbitrary. Maybe Italy holds a special magic, but then again, maybe every place does. If God is constant, and I know this to be true, He has got us covered the whole time, in any place around the world. We never need to worry.