I was in Ravello Italy, which is a small town in the mountainous Amalfi Coast of Italy. Trever and I were there on vacation pre IVF. It was such a relief to be free of incessant doctors appointments and to see the bruises on my arms from blood draws finally healing, something representative of so much more than healing veins. The trip was like a two week jump into a cold lake on a hot day. I spent hours on our balcony breathing in the fresh cool sea air, listening to church bells toll. It was full entertainment just gazing out at old Italian villages dotted in amongst stair step plots of farm land where grapes were the size of kumquats and lemons the size of grapefruits. It was so silent and so peaceful.
As I imagined what life was like when these villages were built I thought, I would have had no problem being a Christian then, because nature makes me believe. Nature suctions out from me the illusion that I have control. It reminds me that I am not the protagonist of the world’s story. When nature’s wild and yet life-giving force refuses to be untamed I see God in it and I’m humbled. In nature God is simplified for me, He becomes creator and sustainer. In the simplicity, the fog clears away, the noise of confusing theology is silenced, and I have nothing but gratitude for someone for whom our tired words can never explain.
I found myself praying, but praying without words. The silence felt Holy and so in recognition of God I remained quiet and wordless. This was not the wordlessness of my stubborn prayers born out of cynicism, but rather a humble quiet recognition. It was a moment of eye contact after months of blurred vision.
Later that day on the way to dinner we stopped into the Cathedral in the town square of Ravello. Ravello is typically a place people go to for day trips, which makes the evenings really spectacular because the multitudes have left. I walked into the Cathedral and was immediately humbled by the cool silence and the imposing arches leading to a massive dome. The church was mostly white inside and it has no central lighting, thus leaving the only light in the room to be given by the candles lit for prayers.
Coming from a tradition with noisy ballads, wordy prayers and floating passions, I found reprieve in this simple, traditional and tangible act of prayer. I picked up a long white candle, lit it from the flame of another candle, and my gaze wandered to the sculpture sitting above it where baby Jesus had a halo made of tiny light bulbs. It was kind of odd and retro looking, but I loved it. I looked at sculpted Jesus and his Edison halo and I asked that He would hear my prayer. I resisted the urge the pull back my prayer and avoid what felt like inevitable disappointment, and I resisted the urge to feel like my prayer wasn’t enough. I prayed one prayer, I didn’t justify it, I stared at the flame and I was silent. My mind was wordless in reflection of the candlelit expanse around me. The moment was simple and Holy, and if I could bottle it and experience faith like that every day I would, But alas, I must return to the noise.