Walking through the streets of Venice at night is tough. There are no boulevards, at least not ones that are recognizable by big city standards. Everything is composed of alleys and even smaller walkways connected by small swells in the street called bridges. Water is everywhere. A light, almost casual, ocean smell permeates everything. Canals, water alleyways really, weave their way through the city tapestry in a way that is both confusing and reassuring. In darkness the scenes are surreal, hiding the truth while inviting one into its presence.
Our first adventure almost ended in disaster. It probably wasn’t a good idea to arrive in the dark. The airlines schedules made sense when I made them. As we prowled and wondered towards our destination, doubts and fears multiplied. At the dead end of a second dark alley we met a middle age man returning to work. I showed him the address and asked if he could give me directions. In contrast to every resident of Venice we had met so far he volunteered to show us the way. As he pointed out the dark walkway we had missed I realized I had met someone who cared and gave, at least in this moment, unconditionally.
The world is a dark place. Pain, suffering, and torment, each a hell in their own right, shadow our steps. It is easy to be confused. It is even easier to be lost. Staying in focus, on mission, and in control is problematic on a good day! Yet each of us carries a glimmer of hope. My angel last night would be totally lost in London but in Venice he carried knowledge which to me was priceless. The gaps in our lives don’t end with directions; we need each other’s light to find the way.
Our role and mission is to be the man from Venice for each other. May our response to Divinity’s invitation simply be; “I pray for them. I'm not praying for the God-rejecting world but for those you gave me, for they are yours by right.” (John 17.9)
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