Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rain, hikes and a Fortress

Today was field trip day.  We went to Urbino and Gubbio.  They are two smaller Italian towns filled with history.  We woke up before the sun at 6:45 am and were on the road by 7:30.  It was a long bus ride, which I love because I get to listen to music and gaze out the window and enjoy the beautiful scenery.  In Urbino we walked through a museum, and saw a few paintings we have been studying in art history.  After the museum, we explored the town a bit and got some pizza for 1.40 from a small hole in the wall pizzeria.  The weather was extremely freezing and rain sprinkled down periodically.  Around 2:30 we hopped back on the bus and headed to Gubbio.
Gubbio was my favorite place we had visited so far.  And it wasn't because of the museums, or any paintings we saw.  When we first arrived, we headed straight for the "ski lifts" which really were not ski lifts at all.  They were more like large 2 person bird cages with no tops.  You see, Italy builds the majority of its cities on hills, because it was much easier to defend your city from enemy attack if you had the higher ground.  So these "ski lifts" took us up to the top of the large hill.  Going up the lift, it was raining and freezing, and I loved it.  Of course, I was really cold and soggy, but once I got over the fact that I wasn't going to stay dry, I completely enjoyed myself.  The view was beautiful looking over this ancient city. The clouds were hiding the sun in some places, and letting it peak through in others, forming wonderful sun rays that were enhanced by the rain in the distance.  Getting off the lifts was an adventure in itself.  They don't ever stop, so to get out, you have to open the little door, and hop out before the lift goes around and back over the cliff.  It was a little frightening, but totally fun.  
There is a church right where the lifts let you off, but we decided to hike up the path to the fortress.  Most of these ancient Italian cities have fortresses at the tallest point of the hill.  The fortress was a place used for protecting the city by spotting an enemy attack from miles away.  So we hiked up to the fortress in the cold, wind and rain.  But when we got there it was so worth it.  The view was amazing with the clouds, the sun rays and the fresh wind blowing across our faces.  Looking over one side of the fortress, we could see the cities and civilization, but going to the opposite side, there were only hills and forests to overlook.  And these hills were definitely covered with sheep.  Yes sheep.  Not cows.  I was pretty excited, as I always seem to get whenever I see sheep around.  We stayed up there for awhile then headed back down and decided to look inside the church.  It was beautiful, and just as I was getting excited about how wonderful this church was, I looked to the front and saw a dead man put on display.  My wonder and awe suddenly turned to confusion and disgust.  This was quite an odd display of a corpse.  I walked up closer to this display to see if what I thought I was seeing was really real.  And it definitely was.  It is the body of Saint Ubaldo who the church is built in honor of.  So, if your church is honoring a dead guy, why not put that dead guy on display right there at the front of the church?  And this was an actual body.  He was still wearing his nice church clothes and was laying down in a glass box.  His face looked like it was from a picture out of one of those Ancient Egypt books showing the mummies after their bandages have been taken off.  His skin was greenish brownish and his face was sinking.  I'm sure the guy had seen better days.  It was a little strange...
So now that you have that wonderful description in your head, let me transition to the lift ride down the hill.  We hopped/fan into our bird cage carrier thing and headed back down.  I must say, the ride down was even more beautiful than the way up.  The sun was peaking through the clouds at just the right angle, allowing the entire valley to light up under the cloudy sky.  I also had the lingering feeling of experiencing an amazing piece of history and beauty at the fortress.   I call these moments in life "journal moments".  They are the times you hear the song that brings you back to that moment you will never forget.  You know what I'm talking about.  When you see a miraculous sunset, feel the embrace of someone who cares for you, when you see two innocent children playing and laughing together, when you accomplish something you never thought you could.  Those times when you feel like life can't be worth nothing.  Those times when you know that there is something more.  These are glimpses of hope.  Hope that this tiresome, painful life isn't all there is.  The hope that maybe one day this broken world will be healed.  This is the feeling I got at the fortress today and heading back down the hill in the lift.  They are the times I want to journal.  So I can remember these moments.  So one day I can look back and remember that hope exists.  
Today had its share of journal moments.  
And I think thats what I'm gonna go do right now.  
And listen to the rain.


Tamara said...

Awe how I love journal moments :)

joy said...

beautiful jo. so good talking with you the other day. y ou looked so tired! hope you got some sleep.

julie pickett said...

your writing always inspires me to take on the day with a fresh and thankful attitude! i need a journal moment...and soon!