Monday, June 17, 2019

Footsteps - Now the Real Journey Begins

We walked over 55 miles. 
We saw more than we could have ever imagined. 
We talked about important and difficult things. 
We ate tremendous food. 
We laughed. 
We cried. 
We celebrated.
We learned. 
We grew. 
We became family.

And now . . . 

the real work begins. Now the challenge is to integrate all of this into our everyday lives. It is going to take time. We have to be patient with ourselves. But one thing we know . . . 
We will never be the same. 
We are loved 
no matter what,
no matter where,
no matter when. 

Thank you for journeying with us and for making this life changing opportunity happen. 

You are loved!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Footsteps - Final Day in Rome

How does one describe such a day? 
How does one capture things that are beyond explanation?
Let me try it this way. 

We walked where the ancients walked in the Roman Forum. We stood where senators and caesars stood. We saw their temples, their public buildings, and their political structures. 

We visited the prison where tradition holds both Peter and Paul were held before martyrdom. The Mamertine Prison is haunting and holy at the same time. You could feel a presence there. 

We saw and stood inside the Colosseum where gladiators dueled and people and animals met their demise. 

We traveled by Metro to St. Paul’s Outside the Walls. This is where Paul is buried. This magnificent place is mysterious and beautiful in its comparative simplicity. We were met by soaring organ music as we entered. We also remembered our baptisms in a special service we held in the baptistery. Can you imagine the generations of people who have been baptized in this very room? What a privilege it was to hold our service there. 

Some of us then journeyed to St. Peter in Chains where we saw Michelangelo’s Moses. Here we were greeted by choral music as we entered. It was yet another unexpected moment. 

After dinner, we celebrated communion in the piazza outside of Santa Maria Maggiore located just a few blocks from our hotel. Deacon Alex Dennison and Deacon Ross DeLong we’re our celebrants. 

We returned to the hotel where we shared about our experience over these last ten days. We are different people. We are not alone. We are loved no matter what, no matter when, no matter where. 

Thank you for your prayers. One more night away and we will be home. You are loved. 

The Roman Forum - Temple of the Vestal Virgins in the foreground 

Mamertine Prison where Peter and Paul were held

The Colosseum 

St. Paul’s Outside the Walls

Central Apse at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls 

Michelangelo’s Moses in St. Peter’s in Chains 

Communion outside of Santa Maria Maggiore 

None of this happens without these people. 
Thank you, Rev. Meagan Findeiss, Rev. Owen Gray, Grace Gray, and Tyler Wolfcale 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Footsteps - a Big Day; a Long Walk in Rome

Rome’s Metro
Vatican City
Vatican Museum
Sistine Chapel
St. Peter’s Basilica
Alice’s Pizza
Piazza Navona
Giolitti’s Gelato
Trevi Fountain
Spanish Steps
Dinner near our hotel
Over 7 1/2 miles of walking

All of that in a single day! 
Yep, we are tired, but we are full of wonderful memories and magnificent challenges. 

We met Michelangelo, St. Peter, Botticelli, Bernini, popes, Raphael, the ancients, fellow pilgrims, ourselves, and the divine along the way. Every meeting shaped us and changed us somehow, somewhere along the way. 

Our tour guide, Teresa, is a rock star. We are so glad that our paths have crossed. 

Thank you for your prayers. We have one more big day left. We anticipate another glorious experience. 

St Peter’s

Teresa and the group at the Vatican

Beautiful staircase

Teresa and the Junilee Doors

St. Peter’s

The Pieta by Michelangelo

One of the ceiling views in St. Peter’s

Piazza Navona

The Pantheon

Trevi Fountain

The Spanish Steps

Friday, June 14, 2019

Footsteps - Arrival in the Eternal City

We packed up and left for Rome. After two short flights, we arrived. We took a quick break and then went for a short self guided tour. 

Our first stop was at Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri - Saint Mary’s of the Angels and the Martyrs. This is a cathedral built inside an ancient Roman bath. It was designed by Michelangelo. It is breathtaking and full of magnificent art. 

Our second stop was Santa Maria della Vittoria. This church houses one of the most important work by Bernini - The Ecstacy of St. Teresa. The folds in her robes, the look on her face, the positioning of the bodies are magnificent and seem to stop time. This small church is full of spectacular art. 

Some of us then went on to say a quick hello to the Colosseum - Flavian’s Amphitheatre. 

Rome has much in store for us, and we can’t wait. 

Preparing to fly

Santa Maria della Vittoria

The Ecstasy of St. Teresa

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Footsteps - a New Country, a New Continent, an Ancient City

We set sail this morning for Turkey. We landed in Kusadasi, a beautiful port city. From there we boarded a bus and headed to the beautiful ancient city of Ephesus. These are some of the best preserved ruins from the 1st century CE in the world. The buildings, the library, the terrace houses, the fountains, the largest theatre in the ancient world. This is the exact city Paul lived in and wrote to. What a wonderful experience. 

Following the best lunch ever, we went to the Basilica of St. John. This church was built on the site of the tomb of John the beloved. It was designed and constructed by the same architects and builders who built Hagia Sophia and it was second only to it in Asia in size and grandeur. From its grounds you can see the only remaining column from the Temple of Artemis - one of the wonders of the ancient world. 

Our final stop before catching the ferry back to Samos was the Mosque of Isa Bey (the Mosque of Jesus). What a beautiful interfaith experience. 

After showers we headed to the port of Pythagorio for a wonderful dinner and gelato. 

Off to bed to rest for another amazing day tomorrow. 

Welcome to Turkey. 

The Odeon of Ephesus. 

Fountain of Trajan - “I rule all things”. They knew the world was round in the 2nd century CE. 

Public toilets. 

Beautiful mosaics on the floors of the terrace houses where the wealthy lived in ancient Ephesus. 

The third most important library of the ancient world. 

Meagan Findeiss teaching in Ephesus from Acts 19.

The theatre of Ephesus that seats 25,000 people 

The tomb of St. John at St. John’s Basilica. 

Isa Bey Mosque in Selcuk. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Footsteps - A Journey to Patmos

This morning we were cheerfully greeted by a beautiful sunrise over Samos during breakfast. We then caught an early ferry to the Jerusalem of the Aegean, Patmos. It is to this island that John the Revelator was exiled. It was on this island in a remote cave that he received the revelation. It was in this cave that he dictated this revelation to his scribe. This holy event in this holy place led to the construction of St. John’s Monastery on the top of the hill. This was one spiritual journey for us all. W were met in the cave and in the monastery by the presence of the divine.

We then had a tremendous seafood lunch on the beach in the Skala of Patmos followed by free time. After we ferried back to Samos, we had time to shop and ate the world’s best gyros at Robinson’s! Upon our return to the hotel we had time to take a quick dip in the Aegean. 

What a transformative day! It is safe to say, we are not the same. 

Thank you for your prayers. Now it’s off to bed in preparation for another busy day tomorrow (they are all busy from here on).

Sunrise over Samos 

Owen Gray teaching about Revelation from just outside the cave. 

Monastery of St. John

Hello from Patmos

Our lunch view in the Skala of Patmos

Robinson’s is no joke! Best gyro on the planet.

Evening dip in the Aegean 

Wading in