Photo Credit: Sam Javanrouh, Florence, Italy
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10
I am the child of hippies – of 1970s vintage – and I grew up without much supervision and structure during those tumultuous years, which is not the best environment for a child. One of the positive results, however, was how independent I became, doing things for myself, and on my own, with great courage and “chutzpah”.
Is it any wonder that I would adore the 139th psalm? It speaks of the loving care of a personal God who knows where I am and what I am doing, and guides me and holds me fast.
My parents loved me, though, and one of the special gifts my father gave me was money for trip to Europe after I graduated from college. I cherish this gift more now, but at the time, too, I was ecstatic over the opportunity to travel for eight weeks with a Eurail pass, a backpack, and money for cheese and bread and hostels.
They say Europe is small, but it’s actually dense – extremely varied with its cultures, art, history, languages, and geography, and after seven weeks, I hadn’t seen it all.
Not even close.
Particularly, I longed to visit Italy and see the canals of Venice, Michaelangelo’s David, and St. Peter’s Basilica. My two traveling buddies had a month more than I (the lucky ducks) and they were content to stay in Austria to explore more of the countryside. I burned to make my last nine days count and see the wonders of Italy.
So I left on my own.
On my own.
At age 20.
(I am a girl by the way.)
What was I thinking? No, I wasn’t thinking, I was impulsively doing. And the God of the universe protected me – even when I was foolish.
How about that?
I was stalked, pinched, and creeped out, but not harmed. And then, as I stood in line on the ancient cobbled sidewalk to enter the Florentine art museum that housed Michaelangelo’s exquisite sculpture, I struck up a conversation with a young woman with a shoulder bag decorated with a Canadian maple leaf. She was Spanish and traveling with her brother and sister from Madrid down through Italy in their tiny citroen. And they invited me to go with them. I spent the rest of my precious travel days under the cheerful protection of three Spaniards, eating their food, traveling safely (though squished), in their car and sleeping at night in their tent (on the far side – away from the brother).
What a loving God to protect me when I had “gone rogue”. What makes him love us so much, not only when we “behave”, but when we are “off the rails” in some way?
“If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:11, 12