Seaside Getaway

This little town in southern Italy, not far from Sorrento, is perched high on the cliffs of the Amalfi coast. It has become my preferred getaway for what I hope is inspired writing. In the winter months the inspiration flows easily from the spectacular views of choppy seas onto blank pages.

But things are different this week. I'm inspired to do everything but write. The temperature has risen, and it's the sun, not windy rain, that beats against the old picture window. It's a hideout.

The cell phone taunts me with one measly bar. When people call they get the picture — He's almost out of reach. They wait a few minutes and call back. He's not moving. He must be hiding out. And I am. There are few places in Europe where the phone doesn't work. Thank God, this is one of them. I could take the plunge and turn it off, and turn them off. I don't. Wisdom, they say, comes with age. I'm still too young to know better.

The quiet allows me to see new things. The sailboats crisscross the bay in a choreographed dance of praise. Some worship the Island of Capri. It's so beautiful, I can understand the temptation. Their time on the water is a simple escape from the humdrum of 9-to-5 or 7-to-7. And that's all. Going home is not starting over. It's starting where they left off.

For others, though, the experience is a liturgy of sort. I know it. I've talked to those sailors. They raise the mast in worship of the Creator of it all. It's an encounter with the big picture. Look at those waves, and now look beyond. Look further, and now further still. See? Well, no we don't. Not any more. We've reached our limit and still we know there's more. We could use binoculars — and I've got a pair — or even a telescope, but still we would know there's more. Precisely because of this we breathe deeply. Sea breeze. I'm so very small and my problems are, too. Someone else is in control.

Today I'll take a picnic lunch and touch the ocean for the first time. I'll look down as far as I can. Around here that's pretty far, you know. It's blue and green and Amalfi clear. This is no habitat for humanity. What's down there is a world apart. If I had the time, I would grip the snorkel between my teeth and peer through the magic mask. Not this time. But I will remember what I've seen before. What could their existence mean if they are never, ever seen? Why such brilliant colors? These sea creatures have a liturgy of their own.

I'm sorry for these romantic baubles. You know I've promised to show light in the midst of darkness. This was an attempt. On Monday we talked about the sex industry surrounding the World Cup. Many of those women will never see the beauty in which I'm immersed today. It's a reminder for us to keep up the fight, each in our own way. And then there are the men who entrap them or use them. What would those men see if they were here? Remember, vice warps our vision. It limits our dimensions. It softens the colors.

I've taken a couple of snapshots of my surroundings and I've posted them here on the blog. Tomorrow I'll post some more, from the water's edge. I hope you get the picture and have a liturgy of your own.

God bless, Father Jonathan

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