Rome, Day 4: Embracing the Sea

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Photo of Rome, Day 4: Embracing the Sea by Unshod Rover

(Part 4 of “The Waters of Rome: 4Days in the Eternal City”)

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13–14).

Photo of Lake Albano, Castel Gandolfo, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Unshod Rover

Our four-day vacation in Rome has been all about water. It reminds me of the passage in the Gospel of John where Jesus speaks with a Samaritan woman about water as a simple element yet most desired, which resonates with my reflections in these days. Our first day in the Eternal City was about the lake, me begging my heart to be like one. That is to try and contain, gather, re-collect everything that matters, and to hold on to things we needed to hold on to.

Photo of Trastevere, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Unshod Rover

Day Two was about the Roman fountains and how they operate through gravity, and that their capacity to shoot water is directly proportional to the elevation and distance from the source. It made me muse on our opportunity to become a fountain, a source of joy to others, and that with the love of God as our main Source, well, we are very well capable of shooting water. On our third day, we followed the river (Tevere, that is). They say, “follow the river and it will lead you to the sea.” This river, I thought, is the Other. And by loving the Other, it will bring us to the sea, that is the great and vast ocean of God's Love. And indeed, on Day Four, we found ourselves before the sea.

Photo of River Tiber by Unshod Rover

Again, the sea is an invitation, a constant call to letting go, to complete abandon, another free fall, an opening, a giving in, a sort of giving back. Everything tends towards the arms – loving, maternal, all-embracing – of the sea. These days of escape and rest and containment and moving forward towards a certain sun, some sort of arrival point, a kind of destination, have led us to the sea.

Photo of Marina di Pescia Romana, VT, Italy by Unshod Rover
Photo of Marina di Pescia Romana, VT, Italy by Unshod Rover

A lot of people go to Rome to be able to walk into ancient times of gods and gladiators. Some visit the city on a spiritual journey that culminates at St. Peter’s Basilica. Others do as the Romans would when it comes to dining and other aspects of its rich culture, including the Romans and the romance. No matter the purpose, the city remains as grand and great as it was in its glory days as an empire. Rightfully twinned with the city of Paris, this Italian city continues to be a source of wonder and wander, quenching every tourist thirst for history and for holidays, every pilgrim penchant for the spiritual and the uplifting.

Photo of Rome, Day 4: Embracing the Sea by Unshod Rover
Photo of Rome, Day 4: Embracing the Sea by Unshod Rover
Photo of Rome, Day 4: Embracing the Sea by Unshod Rover
Photo of Rome, Day 4: Embracing the Sea by Unshod Rover

While they say that all roads lead to Rome, everything that I've experienced even before these four days in this city has led me to the Sea, realizing how immense God's love is. And no matter how much a part of me would like to close up and let my heart be a lake, the call of this Sea is far too strong. One Christian mystic once said: “We’ve understood: to avoid suffering thirst, we must give to others the living water within ourselves that we draw from Him.”

Photo of Rome, Day 4: Embracing the Sea by Unshod Rover
Photo of Rome, Day 4: Embracing the Sea by Unshod Rover
Photo of Rome, Day 4: Embracing the Sea by Unshod Rover

And so here I am, on a rainy Sunday, opening up my lake, following the river towards the Sea. I know it's not going to be easy being a “source” to others, opening yourself up. It will also make you vulnerable again to pain and frustration. But as long as we embrace the vastness of God's love, as long as we are secure where our joy flows from, we will never thirst again. //

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