a beautiful correlation: part 1

I’ve been doing a little reminiscing lately.  A few days ago would have been our sweet Baby Brock’s third birthday.  It’s hard to comprehend that it has been that long, yet some moments feel like I just blinked and found myself where I am today.  Two years ago this week we were wandering the streets and beaches of Italy celebrating my twin brother’s wedding to his lovely bride.  To remind myself that it wasn’t a dream, I just happened to comb through a few of the thousands of pictures that we’d taken.

Somewhere in the middle of swimming in the rocky Mediterranean Sea and the fine dining of the Rehearsal Dinner, I began to see a beautiful correlation between our adoption journey and one of the hardest things I’ve ever made myself do.  As the analogy of these two grew stronger, the Lord whispered some comfort into my soul. And He gave me a glimpse of the Hope that is to come.  Please bare with me as I find the words to explain the revelation of my heart about this beautiful, challenging, and glorious journey of adoption that we are traveling.

One of the most difficult {physical} challenges that I have ever faced in my life took place while vacationing in Italy.  I am no athlete in any sense of the word.  The biggest joke of my life was that I was employed as an elementary school P.E. teacher for a solid year.  On our trip to Italy, I was not completely out of shape. It would be safer to say that I never purposely found leisurely entertainment (including physical activities) that would stretch the boundaries of my comfort bubble.

Nonetheless, I found myself all the way across the world getting ready to take a hike in a vineyard.  There were promises from multiple sources that it would be a casual hike, nothing too difficult for a former P.E. teacher like myself.  Our tour guide, in his rich Italian accent, did his best to explain that his grandmother made this hike twice a day, and she was in her upper 60’s.  The first part of the hike was enough to leave me winded and dreadfully pessimistic about the outcome of the next several hours.

If you notice in the first picture collage, at the top you will see a city on a hill.  Volastra: The City of Olives.  The name alone was enough inspiration to keep going.  I causally asked Mr. Accent if that was where we were going.  With a handsome Italian smile and broken English, he encouraged me that we would make it there eventually.  Had I known what I know now, I probably would have turned around and enjoyed a nap from my room with a ridiculously gorgeous view of the ocean.

After we’d made the tedious climb through the alleyways of Manarola, our chosen city in Cinque Terre, we found ourselves at a pathway made of stairs.  These stairs were hundreds of years old.  They seemed harmless enough, but the stretched for miles.  And miles, and miles.  Alongside these stairs was the occasional hut that was used by the vineyard workers.  Some were old tiny abodes.  We were completely surrounded by what seemed like ordinary brush and bushes.  If you looked closer at many of these tiny trees, you would see the olive trees beginning to bearing their fruit.  There was also the grape vines that were one week away from harvest!

These steps began to get the best of me.  I started to take longer breaks and my excuses to stop and take picture became more frequent.  I was reminded by my Italian friend that this was not meant to be a race.  He encouraged me to take my time, despite being embarrassed that I was slowly trailing far behind the others.

During one of these breaks in our hike among the olive trees, my tour guide and faithful cheerleader pulled me and my husband (who had wisely chosen to keep my pace instead of following the crowd) into a little cove off the path.  I’m sure the rest of our group had already passed this point because they were out of sight.  Oddly enough, I remember there being some construction tape.  We crept around the tape carefully; perhaps it was there as a warning but we dared to go on.  We pulled back a few branches that surprisingly revealed a glimpse of the blue-green ocean.  Despite having legs of jelly and gasping for air, that sight was a beautiful taste of hope.  Being on the long trail, I failed to realize how far we had come.  I think our tour guide knew the encouragement that the spectacular view would bring to me!  Little did I know, we had so much further to go.

Not long after that beautiful glimpse, we came into a city.  This city was full of more beautiful alleyways, better views of the ocean, but my favorite was the church.  Inside, the walls told stories of centuries long before my time.  It seemed to stand there as a haven of rest for so many who had taken that long journey before me.  As the entire group rallied together again, I was encouraged and even excited to keep following this path.  I was still very unsure of where it was taking us, but the promise of more magnificent views were enough to keep me going.

After we left the city, we began to take a more rugged path.  It was rocky, narrow, and a little dangerous.  We left the safety of the familiar steps, and began our excursion on the mountainside.  The views during this part of our journey were much more spectacular.  We could clearly see the city of Manarola behind us.  I was constantly astonished at how far we had come.  It literally took my breath away to know that I had already made it that far, and not only I had survived but I was wanting to go further!  The pictures truly do not do justice to the beauty of this city or the color of the ocean.  Before this experience, I thought places like this only existed on postcards.

At one point on our journey, the pathway became so narrow and dangerous that I found myself scared.  I was scared of the unknown; I was scared because I know myself so well, and I  do lack a certain amount of grace.  I was surrounded by friends and family, and the comfort of my husband was a mere arm’s length away.  But that did not completely erase my fears.  We were able to laugh when the hard part was over.  Even as we look back now, our memory erases so much of the apprehension.

Somewhere along that long journey we found ourselves stepping in line and keeping up with the pace.  We were traveling downhill. However, I soon realized that I wasn’t as discouraged, or winded, or near death as I thought that I would be by the end.  Each step brought something beautiful to look at and something glorious to appreciate.

Remember the City on the Hill?  I had long forgotten about it.  What I had hoped for so desperately at the beginning of this seemingly endless journey was indeed our final destination.  Here, we got to sit down and rest. And celebrate.  In true Italian fashion, we celebrated with a wine tasting!

The entire group seemed to savor the last few steps home.  I, more than anyone, took each humble step with thankfulness.  So thankful to have made it despite my fears and my inability to do it on my own.  I can definitely say that I have never had to do anything that physically challenging in my life before or since then.

The sun was beginning to set as we made our way back into Manarola.  On the horizon we could see the rain clouds rolling in.  Sweet relief after such a warm day.  We quickly showered to get ready for the rehearsal dinner, and spent the rest of evening talking about a journey that we will never forget.


2 thoughts on “a beautiful correlation: part 1

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