what Italy taught me about getting lost

image Want to know a little-known fact about me? Amid the Type-A drive and tendency to hurry, I adore being lost. It is true that I am 1/32nd Cherokee & can tell time simply by looking at the shadow of my horse...but, I do in fact get lost often. Like my first 24 hours in Italy.

My friend Connie & I flew into Milan with maps and whimsy. The plan was to catch a train to Slovenia for a few days and then explore some fine Italian cities. After landing we headed straight to the main train station.

Oh, but wait. There was a national train strike when we arrived & we were stranded. Did I mention it was fashion week? I was stranded in a train station during fashion week. Whoops.

There we were surrounded by very eccentric fashionistas & a  large group of angry Russian women. I'm not exactly sure why there 20+ Russian women, but for some reason they filled the women's restroom and were not inclined to share it. The restroom was the only warm spot in the entire train station and the Russians had dibs on it apparently.

Through some United Nations style negotiation, my friend Connie was able to get us on a train to Venice.  Hungry & barely awake, we lugged ourselves off the train in Venice & began the hunt for our hotel. It was called Hotel Albergo.

It was just after 10pm when we got to Venice. We spent what seemed like days saying, "Scuzi! Dove e Albergo?". The boisterous Italians would flash a smile, point a direction & say a slew of words we couldn't understand.

It didn't take long to realize our mistake. Albergo wasn't the name of our hotel. It was the Italian word for hotel. Hours we spent going from albergo to albergo hoping to find one that had our reservation.

Dizzy from wandering around the canals, Connie & I stumbled upon a midnight mass & sat in the back row happy for a rest. So I sat there. Watching a foreign expression of worship in a strange place was pretty powerful to me. The droning of the prayers & devotion of these silhouettes  lit by midnight candles were enchanting.

I looked at these worn faces around me. We sat together in this ancient church for the same reason. To find Rest. When it was over our feet shuffled back along the canals continuing our search for lodging.

Luckily, or perhaps by divine providence, we found it a few minutes later. The owner's son was attending the front desk of the small hotel. I don't remember his name, but he was possibly the only ugly Italian male we saw during our visit.

He had the hots for my friend & proposed every time we came through the lobby. Oh, the Italians.

To be honest, we spent pretty much the entire 10 days lost in Italy. Each step of the trip had been calculated before we left. I spent $1,000 total on the 10 day trip. Yes, that is INCLUDING airfare. (Just try to beat me on travel deals, I dare you). Despite my best planning efforts, the entire trip was a series of missing trains and loosing ourselves in winding alleys. We were even in the wrong country at one point.

That's just the way life goes sometimes. We get lost, away from our planning & calculations. Lost in strange towns with people we had no intention of meeting. We end up heading north instead of south & going when we are supposed to stay.

Our 5-year plan for our lives gets stuck in an old journal & God has created a new route for us to take.

It is scary and thrilling at the same time.

Italy taught me to surrender the expectation and embrace the adventure. My plans are nothing compared to His. We should put down our maps more often & get lost.

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