Mother's Day was just around the corner when three dozen of us GCCers walked through this moment as a young Italian woman stood in the street, unmoving and staring into the store window. I have no idea what she was thinking, but I was thinking, "Oh my. This is one of those, 'I was an unknown photojournalist until that fateful day when I was in Rome, walking to The Spanish Steps, when I happened across this young woman staring at the display in the store window.'" A thousand thoughts may have been streaming through her mind, but none could say which held her in its grasp though she was certainly held by something because she didn't move for several minutes.
She was transfixed.
So was I.
The drama gripped me. It was all there: the in-store picture of the scantily-clad super model, the contrast of the woman looking in the window, the "Happy Mother's Day" sign, the lingerie being sold (apparently to make Mother's Day more happy... for somebody) and the opportunity for a shot. The street had been packed with people but GOD parted the crowds like the waters of the Red Sea and I got the picture as I hoped: one image, one young woman lost in thought and a thousand ways to interpret her story.
Inside GOD'S grand meta-narrative was the story of this young woman, made interesting because so many of her questions are our questions too.
- What is my worth?
- What gives a person worth?
- Why would someone value me?
- How is someone made beautiful?
- Do these people really know what makes someone "happy?"
- Is there any hope for me?
I had a good laugh with Chris & Christine Lemert when I took this picture. It may have appeared that I spent way too much time preparing my shot... And that would have been true if it was merely a picture of a lingerie store... but it was more than that, and I was determined to record the image before the young woman moved or the crowd closed in again.
When I captured the Mother's Day "Picture of Year," (an award I made-up and gave myself... ), I planned to send a little post to my Blog, but I didn't realize my Italy trip was about to change. My plans for Assisi, Pompeii, Siena and Florence were switched to various hallways of Aurelia Hospital's Emergency Unit and a few ER rooms in the "Stroke Unit" of Gemelli Hospital at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome.
Doctors Jim Blechl and Tom Morton shifted gears (from tourist to physician), and helped me get quick attention when my symptoms appeared. They are great friends and comrades.
Ginny Lawley faced down the difficult decision, whether to stay with her dear friend Sheila, or accept my request that she lead the rest of the tour as my trusted representative (Dr. Bob teaching the scriptures all along the way). She did the hard work of rallying our tour and she ended up accommodating Sheila, me and our entire group. She got everyone home and Russ is pouring lots of fresh coffee for her so she can do all she needs to do to get us home too.
Sheila was staying in a nearby hotel (so she was able to see me two hours during lunch and two hours during dinner), until a few hours ago, when the Doc saw my echocardiogram results and said I am clear to fly in a couple of days!
My brother and sister-in-law are flying to Rome to help Sheila get me home. (My family is the most amazing family on earth.) Their plane landed a few minutes ago and they are "in a taxi of some sort" and on their way to our hotel.
Now, of course, Mother's Day has come and gone... but the important questions of life demand answers from us all - no matter what day it is.
I've given satisfactory answers to a few of life's questions and, as you can imagine, I've completely failed to make sense of several others.
I've learned this to be true... The best answers to life's most important questions are always relationally enriching. Bad answers to life's questions break relationships; good answers don't. In fact, good answers make relationships stronger. And who is surprised? At the root of sin you find the brokenness of violated relationships. Sin wrecks relationships; it's always a bad answer to the important questions we face. But righteousness differs; it always answers life's questions with love and acceptance.
So, let's hear it for righteous living. Let's hear it for family that'l fly across an ocean to bring a brother home, for faithful friends and righteous teammates who serve GOD no matter what. Let's hear it for righteous answers to the important questions of life. And let's hear it for the bonds of love that hold us together as the family of GOD.
Colossians 3:12-17 - Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.