Take that Trip!

In 2011, FH and I travelled to Italy.  FH had never travelled abroad, so it was a momentous occasion.  We bit the bullet and bought the expensive tickets, made the reservations (gotta love TripAdvisor) and it was the best money we’ve ever spent!

Our most memorable visit was to the Vatican, which was stunningly beautiful, and gave us, or at least me, a chance to connect with the Catholic spirituality of my extended family and ancestors.

We got up very early to beat the lines, which was a great blessing. You would think at the Vatican there would be more significant blessings to be had, but when we left at 3:00 p.m., and the lines were around and around the blocks outside the gate, we knew we had been guided to get on that bus at 7:30 a.m.

As a lapsed Catholic who loves the ritual of the Catholic Mass, but not the politics of the Catholic Church (although the new Pope is pretty cool), I am happy when the spirit of Catholicism that I knew as a child seems vivid for me again. I’m still a very spiritual person, but I have a hard time feeling connected to organized religion. Luckily, the thing about Catholicism is that once you are baptized, and for me, confirmed, you pretty much will always be a Catholic no matter how far you stray.

Even if I had not been raised Catholic, I know I would still have been enraptured by the beauty and majesty, art and architecture, of the Vatican.

For those of us in the so-called middle class (does it still exist?), it can sometimes be hard to prioritize how much fulfillment can be gained by travel, by seeing places that are huge and important and amazing. Places that catch our breath and make us consider history, and our place in it. We worry about our retirement accounts, mortgage, rent, the need for a new car pretty soon, college funds. BUT, when we are on our death beds, what are we going to remember? I would bet I’m going to remember lighting candles for my deceased, very Catholic, Grandparents at the Vatican.

Take a trip.  You won’t regret it. Save up if you need to.  It doesn’t even have to be far away. Visit someplace important and historic near home. Be an explorer where you live or travel far away. It doesn’t matter. Just find some way to think about something bigger than your day to day life. Do it soon. It’s worth putting in your budget!

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The Beautiful Paradox of Alone: Not Alone

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This photo was taken at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania on a trip a couple of years ago.  For me it conjures feelings of satisfaction, deep breathing, and connecting with nature.  There’s a sense that in meditation (formal or informal) we are one with everything, it’s a solitude, and yet the very opposite of solitude.  The beautiful paradox of alone: not alone.  Inside and outside, alone and not alone.  Kinda hurts my brain.