No amount of mental preparation could have prepared me for how cold it is here, yet no amount of mental preparation prepared me for the peace I have found here either.
In the last 2 hours before my flight, my heart was beating too quickly, my stomach was in knots, and I couldn’t help but ask myself repeatedly – am I really doing this? Am I really leaving for 4.5 months, when even 5 weeks could make me so homesick? And then I caught a cold in the plane and ended up being sick before I even arrived.
And yet, it has been lovely here. Despite the cold (weather) and the cold (in my nose), it has been so quiet and peaceful and – I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s not a huge, intense emotion, neither extreme excitement nor great fear; just quietness and stillness and peace.
Today, I decided to head out into the snow and look for the Madonna Della Strada Chapel. As my boots crunched through the snow and the wind blew snowflakes into my eyes and my breath blew out in little clouds, I happened upon this beautiful sunset by the lake. It was muted, delicate, ever so gentle and slight – but it summed up how I was feeling so completely. There is great beauty to be found in majestic, intense sunsets where the colours are so rich and deep that you cannot help but stare; but sometimes, there is even greater beauty to be found in what often goes by unnoticed, unless we really look.
When I finally reached the chapel (after staring at the sunset and the lake in awe), it was empty except for an organist. I only knew he must have been there because the chapel was filled with the sound of his playing – how fortunate, that I should step in at just that moment! And the chapel was 100x worth the cold walk there.
It has been only 2 days (and who knows how I will feel tomorrow?) yet I am overwhelmed with grace, because I know that this gentle (almost invisible) peace could have gone by unnoticed if I’d let myself be busy and go about doing as much as I can. Yet, He has given me eyes to see and a heart to look – as St Ignatius would say, to find God in all things.
Oh, so much grace, I cannot even :’)