A new year has started and I don’t know about you, but it hasn’t taken long for my diary to start to fill up and the pace of life to start to get hectic again. I hear so often (and try to stop myself from saying) the answer “busy” to the question “how are you?”
So today, I’m thinking back to a place I was just over a year ago where life felt much slower, and I was just basking in the beauty of village life and of the magnificent creation. Five fishing villages along the Italian Riveria, carefully built on terraces all the way down the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. I’d love to get back there again today.
What did I love about the Cinque Terre?
It was the week before Christmas, and so some travel experts had actually advised not to bother visiting as much would be closed for the winter. I’m so glad I ignored their advice!
Yes, many of the boats were pulled in for the winter, and some of the restaurants were closed.
But the tourists were fewer …
… and the locals were just enjoying their everyday lives.
And the beauty remained.
I think perhaps this is one of the most picturesque places in the world.
Certainly it boasts some of the most scenically located train stations.
Walking between the villages there are moments when you feel like you are at the end of the world.
And life just seems to be going at a more relaxed pace.
What did I learn from the Cinque Terre?
I think the main lesson from these villages for me was just about slowing down. Even the sunset felt like it lasted for hours.
And the combination of slowing down and appreciating the beauty of the creation around me leads me to worship.
I’m not the only one … it was a delight to stumble upon some of the places of worship scattered throughout these villages …
… and to join with all those who have come before in pausing in this place to acknowledge my Creator and King.
This is perhaps most obviously seen at Christmas time at Manarola, where a man named Mario Andreoli has for over 30 years been sharing the story of the incarnation in lights on the hillside, forming the world’s largest nativity scene.
It is another moment to just stop, slow down, be still, and say wow! My iPhone photos really don’t do it justice,* but they remind me and inspire me to seek to find moments to slow down and to worship in my own, too-often-too-busy, life.
*For a much more impressive view of the Manarola nativity … check out this one by Christian Leone from villeinitalia.com