Ciao dalla Sicilia!
Well, here we are. The final stop. Hard to believe we are at the end.
This post is going to be a bit different than the others. After almost two months of travel, walking cities, exploring churches, and hunting out great local spots to eat every day, I realized that I am back in the office in a few days and perhaps it was best I took it easy and actually recharged a bit.
So I booked a flight to Palermo, Sicily along with a hostel that's two blocks from the beach. Should be perfect, right?
Turns out the water that is nearby is actually an industrialized port and the nearest beach was two bus rides and forty five minutes away.
So I get checked into my hostel, a small place run by a mother and son and a cat. It is a little weird but they are nice enough people, and I am thinking, "Ok, maybe this will work."
Here's mom cooking in the kitchen.
And me hanging on the couch with LuLu.
Then he takes me to my six person room...and all of the beds are pink or purple and look like they are for eight year old girls.
So I say to myself, "Ok, so the beach is nowhere near and you kind of feel like a pedophile in the bed but maybe you should try to give the city itself a shot...see something cultural and feel better."
So I make friends with a Brazilian and a Canadian from the hostel who are off to see some cathedral on a hill outside of town.
The next morning, we walk 30 minutes to the bus stop. Wait 45 min for the bus. Bus 35 minutes outside the city to a small town and it immediately begins to rain. No problem, we duck inside the cathedral but have an hour and fifteen minutes to kill before the next bus back. By this point in my trip I am trying not to have serious cathedral malaise but I am fighting it with everything Ive got. Twenty minutes later, we have seen the cathedral so we wait in the rain at the bus stop for another 40 minutes. The time comes and goes when the bus is supposed to arrive.
We ask a local and they tell us that is a fake bus stop. Or its not a real one. I don't know. They kinda shrug their shoulders and say, "It's Sicily."
Eventually, we find the real bus stop but just minutes after our bus had left. No bus for another hour and fifteen minutes. Just us, the side of the road and some goats. Eventually, we are able to thumb a ride down the hill back toward town and catch a bus to a station so we can catch a second bus that turns out to be headed in the wrong direction.
No more fooling around. We exit the bus and hail a cab directly back to the hostel. Cultural excursion fail.
I need beach and privacy and relaxation stat.
Even though I paid up front for all five days at the hostel, I booked a nice hotel three blocks from the actual beach, said thank you to folks running the hostel and hailed a cab toward redemption.
When I arrived at my hotel, I opened my windows to this view:
Had a great meal in the restaurant downstairs:
And for the next three and half days I laid on this beach:
It was the perfect way to relax and recharge after an amazing two months through Europe.
I will be following up this post with one final post to wrap everything up so I invite you to stop reading here if you are easily offended because I feel as though what follows may be a bit of a rant surrounding the touchy subject of religion. If, however, that sounds like your cup of tea, then here we go...
...Giving those who don't wish to be a part of this next section time to file out...
I would like to start by saying that I am in no way religious. I am not making any assertion as to the validity of the Bible. In all honesty, whatever you want to believe in your life is great with me (within reason). I have simply made some observations over my time in Europe and would like share them with you.
To begin, here are a few pics from inside the cathedral outside of Palermo. This cathedral is not so unlike most I visited throughout Europe so it should serve as a good exemplar.
I walked into this place and noticed all of the lavish gold and ornate decorations as well as the extremely large mosaic of Jesus on the ceiling and couldn't help but think to myself what Jesus' own reaction would be to this place if the man ("man") himself came down and saw it.
And I can't help but think he would be embarrassed of it.
Why do I think that?
In Luke 18:14 Jesus says, "For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."
James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
His entire message was, "This isn't about me. Follow my teachings, love God, be humble, take care of the poor and love your neighbor." That's really about it. Nothing about exalting himself above others or enshrining his likeness throughout the land.
It just feels like the appearance of these giant cathedrals can be very much off-message and they often miss the heart of what Jesus tried to teach us during his time on earth.
I would love for someone to show me anything written about Jesus saying that he would have preferred or even tolerated his likeness to be mosaic'd in gold above a grand cathedral, ams outstretched as if he was the center of everything.
I am not suggesting we don't have churches. I am not suggesting that those churches don't have the likeness of Jesus inside them. I think they should. But if you are going to build such a thing, it should be done with deference and a keen eye on his message. And with many churches, especially the one pictured above, I don't think they have done so.
I suppose if your heart is in the right place that's all that would matter to the man himself. To me, this was just an interesting thought that I wanted to share.
And now, this has officially been more talk about Jesus than I have done cumulatively in the last ten years so I think it's best we stop here.
Feel free to message me your thoughts. I would love a discussion (not a debate) about it.
Thanks again for reading. I am home bound and I couldn't be more excited!
To the States!