Sabbatical Lessons Learned Along the Journey – Cinque Terre

photo 2It is hard to describe how magnificent The Cinque Terre is. The Cinque Terre is a series of 5 towns between Pisa and Genoa on the Italian Riviera. Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterossa. We stayed in town #2 – Manarola. But we visited each of the other towns. They each have their own character and draw. Our town has been described as being “exceptional for being unexceptional.” It has just the right combination of all the Cinque Terra qualities.

There are two ways to go from town to town. Take the train or hike. We hiked from Riomaggiore to Manarola and from Vernazza to Monterossa.

In my post on Rome I briefly talked about the Christian life as a walk. I want to elaborate on that a bit as one of the great memories we will take away from our time here is the hiking we did.

The first hike was brutally hard. We hiked up rocky steps for an hour – straight up I kid you not. Then straight down for another 30 minutes. There were times when I thought I might die. There were times when I thought I could not take another step. There were times when I questioned why I was even on the hike. There were times when the pain made me question whether it was worth it or not. But there were also times when the scenic views were spectacular. Times when I felt exhilarated because I was even able to do the hike.

Here are a few takeaways from the experience:

Hiking between Riomaggiore and Manarola
Hiking between Riomaggiore and Manarola

1. We needed help finding the right path. We could not even find the way to get started. There were people who realized how lost we were and gave us guidance. Spiritually, I am grateful for the people that invested in me early in my life who helped me find the Way. I need to be doing the same for others now.

2. We needed lots of encouragement from fellow travelers along the way. Those who had made the climb assured us that it would be worth it and the views would be incredible. Spiritually, I find that I crave the encouragement that I get from those who are also on the journey. I am reminded of the verse from Hebrews 3:12-13, “See to it, brothers that none of you has a sinful unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

3. We needed the hope that the hard part would soon end – that just around the corner the path would flatten out and get easier. I’m convinced this is why God does not show us what our life will look like ahead of time. People cannot live without hope. It is what fuels us to keep on going even when life is really hard.


4. The journey was worth it. Yes it was brutally tough, but Linda and I are both glad that we did it. Now that it is over we see the value of every step along the way and we congratulate ourselves that even as old and as out of shape as we are we still were able to do it. And this journey will be worth it too. Because on “that day” we will see the value of every step we’ve taken in this life…

“One day all the pain that comes with this life will be done
And I will cross the finish line and know the race is won.
The victor will be on His throne;
And I’ll see my eternal home
And that is why I’m waiting for that day.”

Next Stop: Venice

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