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Family Matters 07/21/16

A Lesson in Rest from Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany, Italy

If you've never visited Tuscany in Italy, there is much to love--beautiful hills flowing with vineyards, olive trees, and sunflowers. The landscape looks like a painted picture. But what's so captivating about Tuscany is the way people live. It is simple, uncomplicated by modern life.

In the 12th century town that became my home for two weeks, I awakened each morning to the sound of a rooster. By 7:15 a.m., I walked to the bakery where I found warm, freshly baked croissants filled with apricot jam to accompany my morning coffee. Surprisingly, there is no takeout coffee in Tuscany. Coffee is served in a ceramic cup and to be enjoyed with people.

People work hard in this land of agriculture, medieval castles, and cathedrals. But when it is time to eat, food is an experience. Meals are slow, deliberate, multiple courses and presented like works of art. Nothing is processed. Every dish is homemade using garden herbs and homegrown olive oil. I drank water from a tap on the old wall of the city.

My allergies were nonexistent and I went to bed tired from all the walking I did. There was no gym, no Pilates, just natural movement in a town with stairs and hills. Several times, each day, I made my way down the mountain, up the mountain, into town, and around the wall.

I watched no television, only the sun rise. I lingered on doorsteps surrounded by flowers bursting from pots. The smell of fresh lavender released whenever I ran my fingers through the petals. The ordinary became extraordinary. Life slowed down. I enjoyed people!

As I gazed at the pregnant Madonna in Monterchi and the beautiful della Robbias of Laverna, I felt gratitude for the beauty of art to capture sacred moments.

For two weeks, Tuscany allowed me to live in the moment, enjoy the beauty of creation, slow down, savor meals and the company of good friends. And I was reminded that this is what I need to build in my everyday life--times of rest, spiritual refreshment, and enjoyment of others. Tuscany taught me to rest--a lesson I desperately needed. And I suspect many of you do as well.

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