Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do. So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others. Romans 12:4-5
On our trip to Italy, we visited the beautiful cities of Florence, Siena, and Rome. Each of those ancient cities are saturated with art, done by some of the most brilliant artists the world has ever produced.
The Piazza del Campo in Siena is a huge area, and it is the home of a famous horse race, the Palio di Siena, which pits each of the seventeen contrade (neighborhoods, but more than that really) of the city against one another. Actually, there is a lottery to pick ten of the seventeen contrade to participate in the race. Each contrade has its own flag, its own traditions, and there is a great rivalry about the race. It is run twice each summer, coinciding with feast days which honor the Madonna of Provenzanzo, and the feast of the Assumption of Mary. The event has been going on annually for a shade over four centuries, so there has been time to build up some rivalry.
While we were in the area near the Piazza one day, we heard loud singing. It was joyful and hearty. I had to check it out. Upon turning a corner in a small alley (there are only thousands of them in Siena it seems), I saw a group of young men standing on tables, drinking wine straight from the bottle, and celebrating some type of event. Maybe it was a bachelor party, or maybe a college fraternity. Maybe they were simply celebrating that it was Tuesday- who knows. The point was that they were exuberant in their expression. Besides that, they sang in unison, on tune, and at the top of their lungs.
I loved it.
The free expression of emotion seems to be an enduring trait in Italy. Uninhibited singing, expressive hand gestures, a gusto for life. Those are some of the things I appreciated on our trip. The art was spectacular, the ancient Roman technology was unsurpassed, but the people were just fascinating.
Traveling gives us perspective on other cultures. We learn to appreciate differences, and celebrate those differences. That sounds like a good idea, whether we travel five thousand miles, or five blocks.
Prayer: Lord you have made us in your image, yet so different in expressions of it. Help us to appreciate the differences, Amen