Sunday, 31 January 2016

Life is short

I know that it is an old adage that people often use,  Life is short!  However, when you give pause to it you realize how absolutely true it is and how fast time seems to go along.  We think that there is lots of time for us to do things so we put it off for another day, after all there is work that needs doing, chores that need to be finished and a multitude of other reasons to postpone that hope or dream.  Then there are those who would offer discouraging remarks about what you are thinking about doing.  What if it doesn't work out, what about your safety, what about ?????? and the list can definitely go on and on.  If we get caught up in all of the possible things that might or could go wrong we would likely not go far, live a paranoid life and then if we are lucky make it to a  decent age and look back and realize that the time for all of the hopes, dreams and things that we had wanted to do seems to have passed us by.  That seems to be a sad reflection for one to have to consider years down the road.

Life is short, so what would you do differently?  Rather than fritter away the time that you can never get back think about the moment and how it can be made special and beautiful because it is time that you can never get back.  Life is far too short to not live life to the fullest, visit the places that you always wanted to see and do the things that you would enjoy.  Does that mean no more tedious tasks?  Of course not, after all we still have responsibilities that have to seen to.  However, if you intersperse the responsibilities with the hopes and dreams that you have then we find that life takes on a whole new meaning.  It is no longer the mandatory tasks that become hum drum and consume our time because our focus changes and we think about all that we have been able to do and accomplish.

Life is lost minute by minute and it is far too short to look back and regret all of the things that didn't get done or seen.  In a conversation with my Aunt, who was incredibly excited to receive a call from Italy, she said I wish I was younger so I could travel some more.  This, I think, is a fabulous attitude to have in life not regretting what she did but still wanting to do more.  Life is definitely short, moment by moment and hour by hour we can live a life filled with promise, hope and filled with all of the things we want to do, see and accomplish.  Then in our latter days we can look back not with regret for what we have not done but with a sense of satisfaction that we were able to fit in so many things.

As you grow older, you'll find the only things that you regret
are the things that you didn't do.
-- Zachery Scott

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Assisi . . . the City of Peace

We made the pilgrimage to the village of Assisi.  A short train ride took us to Assisi station where we hopped on the local bus to take us to the foot of the village and then we walked and walked and walked!  The entrance to the village said welcome to the City of Peace.  

The simplicity of this mountainside city and the beauty of the view below was breathtaking.  To call it the City of Peace was not an understatement as we leisurely strolled up and down lanes window shopping, wandering from one church to another, looking on with awe, stopping to pray and meditate.  Tourists were few in number, most who were present today were stopping to offer prayer or sit quietly.  Noisy people were soon shushed by someone nearby. 

Words alone are inadequate to describe participating in the mass at St. Francis Cathedral surrounded by the beauty and majesty.  The sung parts of the service were done acapella and it sounded fabulous as it soared to the rafters and echoed throughout the building.  It was enough to bring tears to the eyes. 

Peace here is about living in simplicity and harmony with all of creation.  This was the goal of Francis as he renounced his worldly life and the comforts that he had known.  The cross that he used is unique to the order The tau is the sign used by St. Francis to wish peace to all he met. It looks like a T. In the Old Testament, it is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  It was much in evidence at many of the local gift shops and was certainly prominent on the lawn of the Cathedral

The gates of Assisi

The Roadways

Side view of the Basilica of Francis 

Side view and entrance of the lower part of the Basilica 

A most unique nativity

Entrance Doors (this is as far as the camera was allowed)

Inner court yard, Cloister Apse

From the upper part of the Basilica we walked out to this courtyard

The Front view

Trying to capture all of this place

Looking directly at the Basilica, note the Tau Cross and Pax

An Alley

Outside one of the stores there was this wooden  piece 
depicting Francis and an arc of birds

Temple of Minerva

Basilica of St. Clare

The view of the village of Assisi

Assisi Village

The Valley below

The Hermitage

Perched on top of the mountain

Looking toward St. Claire

This was very common in the village to 
have a fresco near the house address

The whole experience of Assisi, places of prayer, meditation, solitude and grand structures built on the side of this mountain was special.  Special not because of the grand structures that have been erected but because of the activity and sincerity of these saints who devoted their lives to the care of creation and the love of all creatures.

Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary . . . use words. 
-- St. Francis of Assisi

Friday, 29 January 2016

And we are off . . . again!

We are on the road, or the train, again!  We are on the last leg of our journey which will take us to Perugia and from there we will commute to Assisi.  Venice has been a wonderful experience and we are grateful for the time that we had in this city.  The sun shone beautifully today and it gave a whole different feel to the place.  Once again we took the opportunity to walk the streets, enjoy the traffic on the Grand Canal and marvel at the rules of the canal and that they are not unlike the rules of the road.

One thing that we observed that particularly struck us, is that in this city tourists were welcome in all of the religious sites but only to look if they were not there to pray or participate in the service.  You might ask, how this was enforced?  There was always someone stationed in the church to let you know that mass was on so silence was essential, you must be dressed appropriately, cellphones had to be off or muted and there would be absolutely no photos.  Sacred spaces were just that.  Of interest as well were the many religious pictures and icons that could be found on the walk. Many of the local businesses would have religious symbols and pictures hanging over the cashier area.  While those of us in the church often lament the lower numbers of people attending and worshiping there was clear evidence that there is still an awe and respect for the divine, the great majestic symbols of the past are still important (if less essential) and people are still seeking to find the holy around them.

So to finish up here in Venice here a few pictures of how beautiful it is at night and a few from this morning as we walked and enjoyed the sunshine and sights.

Venice by night

The scene on the main street just outside our hotel

Beautifully lit up

Night shot of the canal

The Sun shone today making it lovely for a another bit of exploring

The bridges over the canal

And the traffic coming and going

More traffic shots on the grand canal

Boats park here like we park cars

One of the church domes

lots of traffic on the go today

The Bus

Thought you might like to see how the foundation of the houses look

St. Lucia and St. Jerome Church.  Its lovely bells work us every morning

Carnival week is on and here is a character posing

Lovely angle of the bridge, a more modern structure than the originals

One of the many well attended icons that could be found

A view from under a canal bridge.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Feels like Home

If you read a lot, nothing is as great as you imagined.
Venice is - Venice is better!
--Fran Lebowitz

You can take the girl out of Newfoundland BUT you can't take Newfoundland out of the girl!  Venice today was cold....damp....and yes you guessed it....foggy!  I thought I had gone through some sort of warp and woke up in Newfoundland!  We were right at home if a little chilled.  So we were off on foot to tour this beautiful place, smell the sea air and explore, explore, explore!  We wandered down alleys, admired the gondolas in the canals and the drivers in costume, window shopped, ate gelato and went on a boat tour.  The day was jammed packed.

Edmund felt right at home as well as he bargained in the market.  The poor vendor was determined to get full price, Edmund however was not about to budge...end result I got a lovely bag for carrying things at a fraction of the cost.   The vendor had to move on the price or he would have made no sale!  Edmund was happy, he still has the bargaining edge!

From the weather, to the seafood, to the multi-coloured houses and boats it all seemed so familiar despite the fact that it is separated by so many miles.  So less writing tonight and a few more pictures for you to enjoy. 

The Gondolas -- ready for their passangers

The roadway

Again more houses and canals

A little traffic jam happening on the canals

Boats in the canal

St. Marks Cathedral in the Square

view of Venice from the water

St. Giorgio on the Isle of St. Giorgio Maggiore

foggy views of Venice from on the water

Murano Island, the first stop on our tour.  Known for its glass blowing

Ovens are fired up and the artisans at work 
making amazing things with the glass

The boat garage

This marks the waterway for the boats.  
Yes there are lights to mark them at night and speed limits!

A Monastery on an Island alone

Burano Island, known for the lace work 
and the colourful houses.  

More of Burano

Pont de Diablo on the island of Torcello

Standing on said bridge with the oldest church in Europe in the background

Burano again 

One of the canals on Burano, all the boats are tied up! 

Again a canal of Burano

the church on Burano Island, note how the tower is leaning

The fog rolled in heavy as we headed back to shore from the tour.  A lovely walk back, our way found with the help of store windows (an orange coat here, blue shoes there, Hand bag sell on another corner) and we were back at the hotel no problem!  And like the quote says -- books are wonderful but Venice really is better than you can imagine and no book can ever describe it adequately!