Home > Christina's posts > First Week in Italia

First Week in Italia

Lucca

We arrived in Pisa on Thursday evening, after a week’s vacation with my parents in the UK. As we heaved our luggage out into Arrivals, we were loudly greeted by a long row of the happy faces of Marco’s extended family. My cabin bag was taken away and replaced with a bunch of delicate pink flowers by Marco’s Nonna, who spent the past two years asking when we were coming home. After the perfunctory hugs and kisses we were bustled out of the terminal and into the family minibus.

The country road from Pisa into the mountains is flanked by sunflower fields. The minibus bumped along, making the once-familiar sharp left turn and starting to climb, as the road became narrower and darker. The covered excavation of the Roman villa at Massaciuccoli was now underway, and the remains were well-lit and protected by a sweeping canvas marquee.

We were approaching Quiesa from what I thought of as behind, rather than following the autostrada from Pisa as far as Massarosa and driving into Quiesa from the east. After another quarter-hour of queasy slalom turns, we arrived at the driveway leading up to the Ricci family home. The last time I’d seen this driveway was a tearful late September afternoon, after a last-minute decision to fly back to the UK to see my parents, in case by some miracle the funds to escape to America suddenly arrived.

The house, however, had been transformed. The casa di legno that Marco’s father had built two summers ago had been half pulled down, and was now half the size with an adjoining semi-covered dining area. Marco’s mother Silvia had been painting hedgehogs (the literal meaning of “ricci”) and fleur-de-lys designs on the woodwork. Inside, new lighting had brought the dingy basement-sitting room to life. Our oversized HD TV sat against the staircase, and our warm, geometric rug (slightly grubby with dog hair) had been rolled out across the living room. The furniture was rearranged. From the elegant patchwork canvases on the wall, Silvia had rediscovered her love of art. Even the air seemed lighter.

Marco’s mother herself, whose hair was now even blonder and crazier than I remembered it, ushered us upstairs, where she and a number of female relatives had conspired to prepare us a boudoir of sorts. They’d unpacked, washed and ironed a good number of the clothes that we had hastily stashed before leaving. The room had been repainted, and airy tulle netting was draped from a fixture above the bed, like an illustration from a fairy tale.By this point I was feeling slightly woozy and overwhelmed. The sudden reappearance of my old life, rearranged throughout someone else’s living space, together with travel-tiredness and hunger, crowded my brain. I stood and stared into the wardrobe until someone came to bring me downstairs, to eat the Tuscan steak that Marco had been anticipating for the past three months.

Marco, Christina & Nonna Giuliana

**

The past week has been a cacophony of family and friends dropping round to visit, or us taking the motorino (moped) around the surrounding villages to visit them. We have had the opportunity already to talk with, pray with, minister to, a number of people. Our greatest strength, currently, and something we really need grace to sustain, is the fact that we don’t have big answers for them but we do have this supply of hope and encouragement that won’t run dry.

The recurring theme in all of the conversations we have with these brothers and sisters is battaglia… battle. Everything is a battle; everyone is exhausted. So I fished out my copy of The Happy Intercessor and have been soaking my brain in it. Our biggest challenge is staying in a place of rest here. The first impression most people get of Tuscany is its laid-back lifestyle; lazy mornings, long lunch breaks and endless mealtimes. But behind this lifestyle lurks a frustration; nothing gets done, and people are constantly hassled and stressed by what’s not being accomplished.

Practically, for me, it means resisting the temptation to stay long mornings in bed cuddling my husband, and to get most of my work done in the mornings, when nothing else is happening. Spiritually, I’ve felt like something is always trying to get me into a fruitless wrestling match. It’s kind of like what happened to Jacob… except the wrestler isn’t the Angel of the Lord. Many times since arriving back here, I’ve felt like something is trying to drag me into Fight Club. La Battaglia here is something one should do, as a Spirit-filled believer, and it’s actually relatively easy to refuse. You just refuse, and carry on looking at Jesus and enjoying Him. That’s one thing I didn’t understand before leaving for America.

The argument is, of course, that we are in a spiritual battle. Paul says, “though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses…” (2 Cor 10:3-4 NASB). If I’m not battling “according to the flesh” (eg in human strength or resolve), then my battle is by the Spirit… and thus, if I’m getting tired and discouraged, I surely must have accidentally slipped into battling with my strength, my faith, my resolve. I love Beni Johnson’s writing because she’s so insistent that our intercession, our battle is from Heaven to earth. Israel’s most successful battles looked like Yahweh stepping in miraculously and fighting on their behalf. We’re on that side.

So, Marco and I are reminding ourselves daily that whatever it is that wants to sap our energy by insisting that we have to struggle, all the time, must go find someone else to pick a fight with. We will not fight with people, we will not get stirred up with the weird misunderstandings and twisted meanings that create so much strife here. The God of peace lives inside us. 🙂

Categories: Christina's posts
  1. Thomas and Maria
    June 16, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Nice to read and see that You are back in Italy. It would be so nice to see You in July when we will be staying in Pedona. All His Richest Blessings to You, Thomas and Maria.

  2. Teresa Slater
    June 18, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Christina, Thanks so much for writing an update. It’s good to hear you choosing to release heaven instead of strife. It’s a beautiful thing to rest in Him and love from the overflow of receiving His love. Be abundantly blessed, Teresa

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