No trip to Italy is complete without visiting Pisa. My father knew this, and he made sure our route from Belgium to Rome passed through this famous city. The icon of Pisa, the Leaning Tower, was visible from the road, and the fact that it was leaning to one side wasn’t even lost on my 7-year-old mind. How could that building be leaning like that and still be standing at all?
It is no longer possible to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa; but we have to remember that I grew up with the dinosaurs… Or at least, that’s what my kids always thought! Back in my day, you could actually climb the tower, and that is what we set out to do. Some of us, anyway! My poor mom, always claustrophobic with a significant fear of heights, decided to wait for us at the bottom; but I wasn’t going to let my dad and older brother leave me behind, and up I went.
One of my most vivid memories of this trip was in leaning out over one of those leaning walls. Or at least, I leaned out as far as my dad would let me, which wasn’t far enough for me! Nonetheless, I really enjoyed to be in this place where I had a birds’ eye view of people’s heads. All too soon my dad and brother were finished taking their pictures, and we had to go back down to where my mom was waiting. That was perhaps my first taste of Italy, and I was hooked from that day forth. The Italian people were always nice to us, there was plenty of beautiful countryside, and the buildings were phenomenal.
I’ve never been back to Pisa. In fact, the only other time I’ve been back to Italy at all was when I took my own young family to Europe in 2009 to see my mom, who by that time was in a care home in Belgium. We also did some travelling in Switzerland; but time didn’t allow for us to do more than just dip down into northern Italy. Someday I would love to go back and relive those childhood memories of that beautiful, impressive place.
As I say this, nostalgia is creeping in. At the time this is being written, Canada is in the thongs of its 3rd and most deadly wave of COVID19; and as a result, it is difficult to imagine ever being able to travel freely again. There is, however, a better place than Italy, with better, more fascinating buildings than even the Leaning Tower of Pisa. And no, I’m not talking about Heaven, either! I’m talking about a place where I can go at any time! I’m talking about going to my quiet place to be with Jesus. It is, after all, what our souls long for: “I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land.” (Ps.143:6 NIV)
And why shouldn’t we long for Him? He is our best friend: “I have called you friends…” (John 15:15b NIV). He goes everywhere with us: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5 NIV). He loves us far more than any human ever could: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13 NIV). While I may long to revisit the beautiful memories of my childhood, Jesus is always there — especially during COVID! — giving me far more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa ever could: “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalms 18:2 NIV) All I have to do is lean in to Him!
Why not try it today?
In His love,
(To access the entire “Through the Eyes of a Child” devotional series, please click here)