My first taste of Italy was gelato, of course.
While this creamy, smooth gelato was the best I have ever had, we had to work for it. Riomaggiore is built almost vertically on the side of a mountain overlooking the sea. We pushed our 50 pound suitcases up a hill that made the Greek hill at TCU pale in comparison, and by the end we were exhausted. When I took my eyes off of my suitcase and had my first look at Riomaggiore, it made the climb worth it. The colors were vibrant, coming together to create a bubbling, lively atmosphere conducive to our energetic personalities. However, there was also a simplicity about this place that was intriguing. The shops were small, and the people were mostly local. People hung their clothes outside their windows on lines to dry them, and hiked up the steep mountain to attend church. Moments after reaching the top of the hill and observing all of this, we ran for the gelato.
Riomaggiore was a place where we were all able to reset from the tough history of Germany and excitement of Interlaken. It was a much needed time of rest and reflection as we embark on the tail end of CR.
On our last day in Riomaggiore, we hiked 10 miles and 180 floors. Needless to say, my calves still really hurt.
We hiked to the top of the mountain overlooking the colors of Cinque Terre and the clear blue sea below. The wind blew softly, the sun drowned the valley in warmth, and it was a beautiful day. As I looked out across the sea, I could hardly tell where the water ended and the sky began. It all blended together to create a feeling that the sea was endless. The sea always makes me feel small, but a good kind of small. Small in that there’s someone else who has me in their hand, who has a plan far greater than mine.
I sat at the top of the mountain and I was still. Honestly, being quiet and still is a rarity for us. All of our CR days are spent exploring and adventuring, discovering through experiencing. I have always packed my days completely full with lists, appointments, and plans. I enjoy being busy. I find fulfillment in being busy and doing. Our culture places importance on busyness, and at TCU there is a culture of competition centered around who is the busiest. Who stayed up the latest studying? Who has the most meetings? Who is sprinting from building to building?
I glorified being as busy as possible until someone told me last semester, “every time I see you, you are running somewhere else.” I didn’t want that at all. In running from place to place, person to person, and scheduling myself to the 5 minutes, I missed depth of relationships and the passion that should come with the day to day things that I did. Glorifying business makes life fly by without any reflection. I think we get lost in the competition. In the busyness. We miss the point. The point is not to run through life checking things off of a list, and winning a busyness competition. I realized at the top of the mountain overlooking the sea that ultimately it all falls short. Our busyness does not satisfy, that is why we will always crave more. At the top of Riomaggiore I tasted the beauty of being still. I experienced a clear mind and a still heart that did not crave a new adventure. I was content right where I was. I was able to reflect on the past few weeks and do hard introspection that I often shy away from.
When I took a step back from idolizing busyness, I found that in constantly doing we miss the still, quiet moments that catalyze true growth. We miss the small things of beauty that give us a glimpse into God’s heart. We miss diving deep into relationships and truly knowing one another. While busyness is inevitable in our fast paced world, idolizing it is not. I want to take more moments to stop and look around at the beauty of the world.
Riomaggiore, thank you for the killer calves that I know are coming, the start of a gelato-only diet, and a pause from the busyness.