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Friday, April 13, 2012

All who wander are not lost...

After a post about a few of the times I was lost, let me wonder in writing about wandering...

Since I left Nablus, I have been wandering...in Israel, in Turkey, now in Italy, soon in Spain, France, and the Netherlands.  Though most days I set out without a clear plan, the days seem to emerge just as they are meant to, always with unexpected beauty, sometimes sorrowful and sometimes joyful, often also with moments of  pure peace and contentment.

I think what I am enjoying most about this time is the walking. I have been walking and walking...and walking, regardless of what city or town or region I'm in... And I love it.

Today, for example, I arrived in Venice. Venice! It was a drizzly day, but I arrived early in the afternoon and I wanted to take advantage of my time. I'm leaving for Turin tomorrow (something I could not have told you had you asked me a few hours ago). I met an Argentinian woman at my hostel, a woman also fond of wandering, and we set off.  We wandered.  Mostly we marveled at the beauty of this city, took pictures, and shared stories.  We never once looked at a map.  She left eventually to find a friend and I kept wandering, still without looking at a map. I came across a really cool museum dedicated to the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci. The museum was full of models of his inventions, based on his drawings. Some of the models were interactive and I went through the museum, contentedly playing with whatever I was allowed to play with. The museum wasn't in my guidebook, so I'd likely have missed it had I left the hostel with a set itinerary. Tomorrow I have a few ideas about what I'll do, but will also allow for some good wandering.

Yesterday I was in Verona.  Verona is...just lovely. My plan there...to wander.  I knew I wanted to go to the  Juliet places (her house and tomb, y'know, the ones of the fictional character) but other than that, I figured I'd just see where the day took me. In addition to the Juliet places, the day took me to the top of a bell tower, to an amphitheater and theater, to some fresh fruit, candied hazelnuts, gnocchi, wine, gelato, and pizza.  It took me over bridges and into churches. It took me through fog in the morning, warm sunshine in the afternoon, and light rain in the evening.  I was away from the hostel for 8 or 9 hours (of course, the hostel locks people out of the bedrooms for 8 hours, so I sort of had to be, but that's beside the point) and much of that time was spent walking.

In Assisi I had the pleasure of wandering with other people, and even people I knew- a rare treat for this solo traveler. I wandered with boys from Trinity and later with boys from my hostel (they were actually men, I s'pose).  Good conversation makes wandering all the richer. I also got to sit and chill with my adult friends from the Trinity group, a time for which I am so grateful.  I think Assisi will remain one of my fondest memories from my time in Italy as much for Assisi itself as for the company I shared there.

In Rome my wandering led me to beautiful cello music near Castel D'Angeli and dueling singing groups at the Spanish steps, to the modern art museum where I saw Klimpt's La Tre Etat, through Villa Borghese, and happily (and once unexpectedly) to the Trinity group.

I wandered in Turkey through Istanbul, Izmir, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Konya, Goreme, and, a second time, through Istanbul. I won't try to get into the details of those 2 weeks...

So I have wandered and mostly I have not felt lost, but rather, content. I have been content to let most days unfold as they choose, not as I choose. In fact, as I think about my last post, it seems as though making plans only gets in the way of some other plans made for me. It is liberating to wander without my own aim, though I won't say my days are without aim. Wandering allows me to process my time away from home. Wandering allows me to pray about these last months and how they may guide me into the next ones... Though I don't know what is in store for me when I finish my wandering through Europe, I feel confident that my feet will continue to take me where I need to go.  I will continue to wander, and I will not be lost. 

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