Welcome back to my blog! This week will be my final post. Before I begin, I want to say a personal thank you to everyone who read these posts every week. It was such fun going on this study-abroad journey with all my readers; I hope to do another study-abroad trip soon.
During my time in Florence, I was able to visit Siena, Chianti, Monteriggioni, San Gimignano, Assisi, Amalfi, Positano, Capri, Venice, Rome, Pisa, Lucca, Viareggio, Switzerland, Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Corfu, Athens, and Santorini. (I am not sure if I got all of the places I went to but that is at least most of them 😅!) Overall, visiting all these new places, I learned a lot of what it means to live life to the fullest. I learned the incredible value of friendships, the importance of trying new things, and the importance of taking advantage of the time you have each day.
Most importantly, I learned how God is always with us: even in the times where the waters are stormy and we want to “abandon ship.” Recently, I have been reflecting on the following passage from the Gospels:
“And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?'”(Matthew 8:23-27, English Standard Version)
In this passage, the disciples get into the boat, because of their faith in Jesus, but are freaked out when storms come. And, amazingly to the disciples, Jesus is sleeping!
Before my trip to Florence, I felt a lot like the disciples. I had just gotten to the Mount; and, as a result, was afraid of being away from my new friends for so long. Moreover, it felt really scary knowing I would be unable to retreat back to my family if something bad happened. At one point, I remember talking to Dr. Canadas, the professor leading the trip, about potentially not going through with Florence. I am glad I talked to Dr. Canadas, because he helped me understand that these fears were just that: fears. And, we don’t have to be afraid when we are living life “on the boat” with Jesus!
Reflecting one final time on the passage, some may picture Jesus as being “stern” or “uncaring” when he asks the disciples, “‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’” (Matt. 8:25). I think it is completely natural to hear Jesus this way, since a lot of times we are not compassionate to ourselves with our own fears and doubts. However, I have been trying to see this voice of Jesus as one who is deeply interested in getting me to the point where I am able to trust him in whatever he brings for me in my life. Therefore, I see Jesus in this passage saying to me, and to all of you reading this, “I know you are afraid. That’s ok. But, think of how beautiful life could be if you let go of this.” This is what I have ultimately learned by living in Florence: life can be pretty sweet if you surrender your fears to Jesus!
Thank you for reading this post and following along my semester abroad. Have a great summer!