Before we had the girls, in what could only have been a God orchestrated event, AJ and I found ourselves living in Naples, Italy. We were living in one of the oldest, poorest, dirtiest parts of the city, working with a drug rehab, and loving it. Loving everything about it. The streets we walked on were littered with rubbish and broken furniture. Crumbling buildings and mozzarella making Italian mama’s greeted us each morning.
It was not pretty. It did not smell good and it was dangerous. The myths of the Mafia and Camorra proved themselves to be true. Daily we heard stories of the destruction of addiction from these men and women who were fighting for their lives and dignity. Each day bought a new challenge from local authorities, the ruling Camorra families and the echoing voices of addiction.
But beauty swirled around us like a protective blanket. Naples is marked as a place of great beauty and joy for me. God changed my heart and my mind in that ancient city. Despite its inherent meanness, God was more present in Naples than in some of the great cathedrals of Europe we obligingly wandered through.
For amidst the smell and the noise and the dirt there was the greatest dignity. We sat and we listened, we worked and we wept alongside our new friends. Their stories, told with such humility, were full of sadness. But they were also brimming with the quiet beauty of God’s redeeming hand and his all consuming mercy. The stories entrusted to us altered our surrounds and our hearts. Nothing could dull the holy, glittering light Naples was encased in. We weren’t just blinded by beauty, we were transformed by it.
This wasn’t beauty wed to anything. This was beauty birthed from grace in the darkest places.
Thanks for reading along on this little journey, Go here to see all the 31 Day posts in one place.
And I couldn’t go any further on my 31 Day journey without sharing just a few other 31 Dayers’ that I am delighting in. So many good words!