Whenever you happen to catch yourself perusing this lovely little site that I have here, there are a few things that you might notice, such as:
- The name of this blog is actually in Italian.
- Its logo is a pink rose.
- By the way, that’s St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in the background.
- My last post on this blog was a little over a year & a half ago.
I promise that before this entry is over, I will address each of these things; but first, allow me confuse your brain a little bit & begin with the last point.
So, it’s been a year & a half since I’ve written anything original for the general public (college papers & personal letters aside). But believe me, I’ve been anything but idle in that time!
In January 2016, I began my second semester at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee & between the demands of six classes, friends, & a budding relationship, I found it necessary to put my writing on the back burner for a bit.
In July 2016, I boarded a plane bound for Krakow, Poland, where I attended the 14th annual international World Youth Day with 22 other people from Aquinas & about 3 million other people from all around the world. The two weeks that I spent abroad traveling & adventuring all over Poland & Lithuania have given me countless unforgettable moments for which I will be forever grateful & which I hope to write about in more detail one of these days.
September 2016 found me back in Nashville, ready to begin my sophomore year & another school year full of new experiences & adventures, & that fall semester certainly did not disappoint! Besides struggling (& eventually succeeding!) through my Logic & Ecosystems classes along with three others, those months were blessed with good, deepened friendships, the best birthday I ever had, a spontaneous camping trip to Kentucky, a move into a beautiful, brand-new dorm, another Halloween spent trick-or-treating around Nashville, & countless laughs, hugs, study sessions, cups of tea/coffee/hot chocolate, & late-night trips to Cook-Out.
Then, in January 2017, I got on yet another plane, but with a different destination this time: Rome, Italy.
I spent the next three months living in Italy, in Bracciano, a little town about an hour’s train ride away from Roma. For me, it was a dream come true, one that had been conceived many years earlier. However, it had only become a concrete reality since I began my studies at Aquinas & learned about their study-abroad program. And so, for three months (January – April 2017), I lived with six other girls from Aquinas & six Dominican Sisters in the Villagio Betania in Bracciano. No worries, there will more than likely be several posts written about my time there, because Italy & the people I met & grew closer to during my time there have a place in my heart which will forever be oh-so-precious to me.
While I was in Italy, we received the news that our beloved Aquinas was experiencing financial trouble among other concerns, & as a result, it had been decided that all of its programs except for Education would be closed, including Student Life & Residential Life. Of course, all of us, on both sides of the Atlantic – students, faculty, staff, & Sisters – were devastated. For us, we were not just losing our school as we knew & loved it, but as our chaplain put it: “It’s like our family is having to break up.”
Coming to terms with that decision & with the decisions that have had to be made since that time about moving on to another school has certainly been difficult. Grief is a process, & it takes time. I was blessed with the opportunity to go back to Nashville in May to see many of my dear friends graduate & to say a proper goodbye to the place & to the people which have truly shaped the woman that I am becoming & which have given me the best two years of my life thus far.
And, as Sister Mary Anne pointed out, “Have a nice life! I’ll see you in Heaven.”
However, I would say that it is the internal struggles of the last year & a half that have kept me from writing more so than my external activities.
In that time, I’ve learned a lot – what it is to fall in love, to have your heart broken, to battle insecurity, to face my fear of the unknown, to have difficult conversations, to be living my dream, to find a family, a support system in a place where you couldn’t have expected it, but when you never needed it more (twice!), to have beauty pierce your soul again & again, & countless other much-needed lessons.
But, please, don’t get me wrong – these last 18 months have certainly been difficult, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. Yes, they may have brought pain, but they have also brought with them incredible joy & love.
In February, we went on a school trip to Florence, Italy, home to many of the greatest masterpieces & artists in history. While we were there, we visited a sacred art school & the master of the school said something during our tour that has stuck with me ever since that day.
“Beauty is communication. The end of beauty is to communicate a deeper truth.”
Italy helped me to realize that there is a beauty within myself that is not my own. We may see an outpouring of this beauty most readily in a beautiful landscape, but it is most perfectly seen in another human person, if we take the time to look at them with eyes ready to see the best in them, to appreciate them, to love them.
I’m not here to preach. I’m here hoping to communicate at least a little of the love & the beauty that I have been shown. I’m writing to remind myself that there are lessons that I still need to learn & that there are many areas where I can talk a good game, but where I am sorely lacking in practice.
So, to go back to the list that I wrote at the beginning of this post:
- The name of this blog is actually in Italian. “Ciao, bella!” means “Hello, beautiful!” in Italian. It’s meant as an encouragement to myself & to anyone else who cares to face the challenge of trying to recognize & appreciate all the beautiful things that can be found in everyday life as evidence of a Love that is bigger than ourselves.
- Its logo is a pink rose. I have a great love for flowers in general, but roses have always been my favorite. This particular rose was one I found growing at the Villagio Betania, where I lived for three months. I chose to make a pink rose my logo because traditionally, a pink rose stands as a symbol of grace & elegance, along with being sweet & romantic. I’m afraid that I am quite the hopeless romantic; as for those other qualities, I believe that they are some of the marks of a good woman, which is what I am striving to become, with the help of lot of God’s own grace.
- By the way, that’s St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in the background. One of my favorite places to visit in Roma.
- My last post on this blog was a little over a year & a half ago. Well, hopefully this post has satisfied all curiosity on this point.
Yes, I haven’t been writing these last 18 months; but I hope & pray that I’ve still been using the time that I have been given well.
Only time will tell.