The Mountains

Delphi Contrast

Early in the morning while the air was still cool we walked along the path that overhangs the side of the mountain and looked on as the sun began to lift the wispy morning fog out of the atmosphere. The mountains in the distance became more and more clear as we wound our way through the various grassy nooks that provided the foundations for ancient Greek constructions. As we snaked our way up, the temples became bigger and more marvelous. The Theater of Dionysus is carved into the stone, fairly high, on the side of the mountain and overlooks the entire mountain range. In this theater, the world is the backdrop. Even further is the gymnasium, which was created for the display of the great potential of the human body.

Only half way up I could lean over the edge to look down and barely see the tops of the trees in the wide valley below. Already I could gaze out and see the layers and layers of mountains, one after another, until they were so far away that they faded into a faint foggy blueness in the distance. If I looked directly up, I could see harsh red and grey rocky peaks peering over the top of the mountain I was currently on. Those tallest and closest to me were caked in thick, white snow. The gentle breeze around me carried the sunlight with it and made golden all it touched.

I created all the mountains and the earth, and yet I still felt the need to create you, and I love you more than all of this.

And yet as I stared out onto these great, majestic creations, I was surrounded by an outburst of flowers. White, yellow, purple, and pink delicacies sprinkled the bright green grass. As I walked by a field of yellow, I could hear the single hum of hundreds of bees doing their daily work. In other parts, birds sang out and butterflies danced in the air, stopping for an occasional rest on a stone or clover. The stark contrast between the greatness of the mountains and the delicate little flowers was a true mark of beauty.

I created all the flowers, the birds, the insects, and all the earth. Yet, I created you, and I love you more.

I understand why people would want to worship here. We understood it so well that we hiked all the way to the top of one of the highest mountains and celebrated Mass outside overlooking the mountain range and the sunset. I’ve never seen so many rich, vibrant colors at once.

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Delphi, Greece

 

I created all the mountains, flowers, sunset, and all the earth, and yet I still felt the need to create you, and I love you more than all of this.

I can’t grip it. Christ died for you and me, not for the mountains. He took the form of a man, not a flower, bird, or bee. It is humans that are marked as the crown of creation, nothing more. He created all of this, and yet, still He loves us more.

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Dallas Abroad

Last weekend I passed my time in Madrid, Spain, and let me tell you, it was one of the greatest places I’ve ever been. I know many would disagree with me, but hear me out.

Anyone who knows me even a little knows how much I love Dallas. The independent attitude and artistic vibe is so unique and has yet to be matched… until last weekend. Madrid was like a Spanish Dallas. A Spanish. Dallas. My favorite city in the world combined with the authenticity of the Spanish culture and language!? What more could I ask for?

Now I’ll admit that it takes a certain kind of person to really appreciate Dallas, Texas and probably Madrid, too. In these places graffiti is not gang signs or petty vandalism, it’s the product of a creative mind and artistic expression (yes, there is a difference). People don’tn stay out until 3 A.M. because they’re getting drunk or selling drugs (though there is a little of that too), it’s because they’re truly enjoying each other’s company at the only time of day they’re not all at work or in school. People are EVERYWHERE. Couples kiss on park benches. Friends laugh emphatically on the streets. Dogs trot alongside their owners and sniff every lamp post they pass.

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I bought it.

A man eloquently plays the Spanish guitar underground in the metro station. His fingers dance across all the strings; the music resounds through the concrete tunnels.

An artist props his table up in La Plaza Mayor and studies not only the architecture, but the emotion of the buildings above him and frosts acrylic paint across the white canvas with his pallet knife, painting the essence of his city onto the fabric.

With the added bonus of churros con chocolate, sangria, and paella, you could take me back to Madrid any day. We could awe at the still life street performers and say no to las discotecas all over again, explore, and come to know it even better.

Until next time, chao, mis amigos.

 

A Room with a View

Before I went to Rome someone told me that in the additional comments on the Roommate Request Form if wrote “A room with a view”, something might become of that.

They were right.

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They say that on a clear day you can see the top of St. Peter’s Basilica. 

 

I’d like to take a minute to capture my current awe at how absolutely wonderful I feel like I am being treated here and how, strangely enough, we are only experiencing what seems to be a standard of Italian culture.

The food served in the Mensa is cooked by a loving Italian couple and is absolutely delicious- all sorts of pan, pasta, meat and vegetables. I’ve only been here a week and have already been treated to two of some of the finest standard Italian 5 course meals and authentic Italian wine. And the coffee… anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love coffee, and let me tell you, this is good stuff… dare I say it challenges Costa Rican cafe?

Our campus is on a working vineyard and has a small section of olive trees in the back. Unfortunately the grapes don’t bloom until the Fall, but it’s still a nice place to run. I can hear roosters crow, birds chirping, and dogs gossiping. There is a well recently excavated  that dates back about 2,000 years. Rumors say it could be the one that Peter and Paul met at as they traveled through Rome.

As I sit here and write this, I silently gaze out the wide open window as the breeze pushes itself through the frame every now and then. It’s nice. I feel good.

Welcome to Due Santi.

Caprice

Playa Hermosa

When I was a Sophomore in high school, I had a religion teacher who was known to be kind of odd. Mr. Thomas Carter, or Tom Cat, as we often called him, could be rather accusatory, a low-level of vicious, used his very own “Mr. Carter logic” when trying to explain things, and didn’t put up with anything but the absolute best from each individual person. This was actually (and yes, I did see this at the time) a good thing. There were not many people who would defend the Catholic Church to a bunch of 16-year-olds and we needed someone who could hold their ground as all the difficult questions were relentlessly thrown at the poor man. I think he understood that I saw the purpose in what he was doing and my interest in the church, and he frequently took care to personally challenge me in class with words and concepts no second-year high-schooler could have known. One day, he threw this at us: “Thank goodness we are not under the reign of a capricious God”.

Capricious? None of us had even heard that word. I was the only one who bothered to ask what it was, and Mr. Carter pulled out a Merriam-Webster dictionary from the 70’s to find me the definition. It was defined as “Susceptible to sudden change in mood or behavior”, or something of the sort. He would quiz me on the meaning of this word on a somewhat-daily basis until I had it down.

But the idea that we are not held accountable by a capricious God, and thank goodness for that, goes just a little bit further: We belong to a God that does not micro-manage our lives. This is incredibly freeing. Imagine the strain felt by someone who for whatever reason has it in mind that each and every action they take can make-or-break God’s extraordinary plan for us. This, in some way, is quite selfish: Who am I to ruin God’s plan? Is he not way bigger than that? It is also rather intimidating. To struggle over the most simple choices in our everyday lives is to live bound up away from the possibility of a true relationship with the Lord. However, this is not to say that we shouldn’t pay attention to what it is that God is calling us to do. Does God really care about whether I eat pineapple or a banana for breakfast today? Truly, I don’t know, but for now, I do know that He and I have larger things to tackle.

A Messy Post: Why I Blog

I’m going to go on a more-than-norm personal spiel here.

Writing is the one thing I can do no matter what state I am in. Exhausted? Still have the energy to write. Stressed? Write about it. Ideas? Write them down. So on.

I don’t need a blog as an excuse to write. No one really does. I journal almost every day in the form of letters.

So why do I blog, then? There are a few reasons. The first is that because I do love writing so much, I want to be better at it. It’s one thing to keep a journal that only I read; it’s something entirely different to write something you know will be read by others. I’ve always been a creative person and crave the creative outlet.  I go to a liberal arts university, so essays are our primary form of submitted work, but a lot of times those are so intellectually based that there is little room for creativity. The elaborate beauty of words cannot be woven in and out through the density of the material. I cannot breathe into life the matter; it is already pulsing there and the mere task that is granted is to build, not to create. In an essay I am asked to gather the sturdy rocks and lay them back into their foundation, organizing them in such a way that is new to the outsider’s eye but is doubtfully something that has not been done before.

See what I did there? C.S. Lewis is great at that. Words, words. Words are so beautiful. I know the content of my blog is neither particularly rich nor fulfilling, but anyhow, that’s not my goal. Do you remember analyzing books, poems, and other various texts in school? Remember how you are asked to analyze and analyze, find hidden meaning in all corners of the writing, dig up the bones of the material, and subject yourself to the mentality, the concealed inspiration of the author? Yes. It is mysterious, mystical, and magnificent.

Maybe I can be noticed for writing one day. This is a subtle and currently weak goal of mine, but it a goal, none the less.

Blogging forces me to organize certain ideas and thought bubbles that I may want to implement into my job one day. It forces me to focus; it wakes up my mind to the critical dedication our humanity has labored over, sweating as the arms aside their backs draw the tool up off the ground and propel it in front of them in an endless circular motion, shaping the way we all think, believe, behave, and communicate. Writing forces focus, strain, and dedication. It is innovative and creative. It can both give life and draw it out of something. It is unique, objective, subjective, and everything that makes up wonder, simplicity and complexity all in a single act.

Will Write. To Write. Writing. Written.

Peace.

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To The Girl Who Is Already In Love

There are versions of you all around me. Often I find myself behaving as one as well.

To the girl who is already in love,

Have you ever stopped to think about the definition of “Love?” Have you ever considered all that the tiny word encompasses? Yes, you say. Yes, you know about the joy, the laughter, the cuddling, the having somebody there when you need it the most and being there in return,  the 2 AM phone calls, the subtle gracefulness that comes from the idea of you, yes you, are loved. It is a lovely thing, no doubt.

But have you ever considered the suffering the term holds?

Love. I want to be with you.

Love. I would willingly suffer for you to be the best you can be.

Love. I would die for you.

Love. I have already died for you.

Yet we reduce ourselves to gentle whispers to ourselves and our silly girly friends, allow our “boy problems” to escalate beyond our control, and offer each other sloping shoulders time and time again as our hearts break by our own ridiculous standards.

To the girl who is already in love, have you struggled?  Have you argued, hurt each other, brought out the worst you can be, fought the difference between love and lust, struggled with the idea that both you and the other can grow individually, not only together?

No, this is not the case for the girl who is already in love.  A near-perfect relationship with nearly no flaws, there is absolutely nothing about your dearly beloved that you could say you simply didn’t like. Not a foul word has ever been uttered from his perfect lips as countless promises are made to each other and the wishy-washy daydream of deep, unchiseled romance becomes a fairy-tale reality. You love each other too much to be apart. You love each other too much to argue, to stick up for yourself, or to say “no”. Can you believe it? You love each other too much to be willing to utter the word “no”.

Has your lover taken your identity or become a part of it? Could you ever be whole without him, could you ever say that you are making each other better as a result of being together? Do you know the meaning of “passion”?

I was told that the best way to love someone completely is to love them not only entirely in who they are, but to love them  as a part of yourself. If you are willing to accept them as a part of you, and your own high standards, then that, perhaps, is love.

It is a bold thing, learning to love someone with all that you are and all that you’re not.

This is a love that advocates for the blood, sweat, and tears, just as Jesus bled, sweat and cried on the cross as the ultimate display of this love nearly 2,000 years ago. It requires pain, work, and not just blissful emotion, but all emotion, raw emotion. This is a love that requires you both to be human.

To the girl who is already in love,

What do you think when I challenge you? Do you even think about this at all? Do you ever think about Him and how He can love you more than anyone else? Do you comprehend your immense value and worth, your irreducible dignity,  your beauty in the eyes of the one who create you? Does he see that beauty?

Do you need to slow down? Breathe a little?

I’m rooting for you.

Peace.