Last week felt like one long yoga session. The hot-sweaty yoga from the stress of tying up loose ends before a 3 week trip; the stretch-until-you-think-you-will-break yoga when you stack up several to-do’s in one day; and the breathe, release, and visualize form from looking up new places to visit in England and France which I haven’t seen before. Seems that this upcoming adventure of mine is causing my mind to race and wonder, “What is going to happen?” However, in the inner realms of my so-called “calm place”, I do realize I really would be better off focusing on the amazing places I will see, people I will meet, and the warmth of getting to know a new family who are my cousins. Since I come from a very small family, this is certainly something to get used to and relish.
On the flip side, my two grandchildren (shown below)are cousins and I hope they will grow up to know one another for the rest of their lives eventhough they live in separate U.S. states at this point. In the very least they will need to be photographed with me once a year to add to the collection of the “Grammie and Me” photos we already have framed.
One evening recently, I attended a lecture about Spirituality in Travel at the European Travel Center, which I call Rick’s place, in Edmonds (Not a normal subject for Rick Steves’ speakers, but they have been broadening their subject matter, which, as a frequent audience member to the free lectures, I appreciate. I learned more about taking photos with my iPad a few weeks ago). The speaker, Morgan McKenna, spoke of the spiritual omnipresence we can tune into if we are really listening, being aware and quiet, when we travel instead of rushing to and fro all the sights we want to cram into a trip. Pay attention to the history of a place, the details, and the photos we can take to remind us of the WOW moments we have experienced.
A couple of “Wow Moments” I shared that evening were when I saw Michaelangelo’s “David” in Florence and how very TALL he was (I won’t say ‘big’ because that is an old joke) and felt the overwhelming experience of great beauty. I sat down on a stone bench behind him (oh, dear, that could be another bad joke), to be in awe of the work the artist put into this masterpiece. Another time I felt awed was walking into St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It was the largest cathedral I had been in thus far in my life (and it is named the largest). Last year I visited the Sevilla Cathedral (in the top 3 largest) and in a week I hope to see St. Paul’s (rounding off the top 3). How the architects built these monumental buildings to honor their idea of God is truly something to affirm as amazing. Then there is the artwork, which is so beautiful and rare and indicative of how much wealth the Catholic church has amassed, yet they still charge admission to many of their churches. I find this incomprehensible (I am a former practicing Catholic). But back to Wows…
In Granada, Spain, I was wowed for the hour I spent with my daughter-in-law and granddaughter (waiting for my son to figure out how he could replace the admission ticket he had inadvertently left in the house we were renting in the amazing Albayzin neighborhood ) on one of the fort rooftops in The Alhambra, as the sun was rising. Standing up there, I had this amazing bird’s eye view of watching Granada wake up just as it has done for hundreds and hundreds of years. Granada has the same couple of neighborhoods (one I mentioned previously where we stayed the 4 days we were there) which have been there for centuries, as well. The history of the kings, queens, and the bloodshed not only from ancient warmongers but even from more recent times when a dictator had so many Spanish citizens slaughtered (Franco was far from being “the benevolent dictator” my ex-mother-in-law thought he was because she lived a sheltered life in Madrid during the 50s, and was obviously so brainwashed not realizing her servants were too fearful to speak out against the madness of their so “NOT benevolent dictator.” But, I digress). So, as I stood on that fort’s roof wondered, was their sky bluer and clearer all those years ago compared to how it is now?
But, let me stop here, breathe and stretch my imagination to visualize I am back on that warm rooftop absorbing the magnificence of a beautiful city in Spain.