#Trust 30 Day 16 – Wonder and Awe

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When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name;—— the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Can you remember a moment in your life when you had life in yourself and it was wholly strange and new? Can you remember the moment when you stopped walking a path of someone else, and started cutting your own? Write about that moment. And if you haven’t experienced it yet, let the miracle play out in your mind’s eye and write about that moment in your future.” –Bridget Pilloud

One such moment in my life happened nearly a decade ago, on a delayed honeymoon to Europe. It began in Italy—Rome, actually—in the fall of 2001.

We were two kids from the country, recently married, exploring the Eternal City. Neither of us were experienced travelers, at least not compared to what we would become, and Rome made a lasting impression on us.

Rome is a city where the past and present are so intertwined you cannot separate them. I remember walking around looking at the monuments in the ancient Roman Forum and at the Vatican, marveling not only at their ages, but also at the history that had occurred in and around them.

Each day we saw something new, often built on top of something that was very old. We tried new foods and explored new parts of a city that had been explored many, many times before. It didn’t matter that we weren’t the first ones to meet Rome—the city easily accommodates new visitors, welcoming them to view the foundations of Western civilization.

At the time, the world was before us and the opportunities seemed unlimited. That may be why the trip was such a significant event to us—the sense of adventure is a powerful stimulant.

What made the trip more memorable was that we arrived in Rome in the first hours of September 10, 2001, on a journey that would keep us away from home for several months. It was a strange time to be abroad, yet it was wonderfully magical. The events back home that fall served to engrave the memories more deeply into our minds.

I remember taking a train eastward out of Rome in the late afternoon one day, watching the sun set over the rolling hills of the Italian countryside. Through the windows of the train, you could see the small hilltop towns and villages with their fortifying walls that protected them from medieval invaders a thousand years before. The valleys were cut up into small fields bordered by aging oak trees and old stone fences. The occasional castle, hewn from grayish brown stone, jutted up from the earth, reminding us of stories of battles fought for land and for honor. To this day I remember that ride with a wistful heart that longs to replicate such an adventure. It changed me, profoundly.

It is difficult for me to recall another time when life seemed so “wholly strange and new,” and as I look back upon it, it reminds me to approach each day knowing that it is possible to live a life filled with a sense of wonder and awe.