“I’m going to Venice,” I announced to the other soldiers in our part of the barracks. We served on a small missile site in northern Italy in 1967. “Anybody want to come with me?”
“Nah. It’s too far away,” one of the guys mumbled.
“That’s better than wasting another Saturday just sitting around here,” I said.
After a brief wait, it became obvious that I would have no takers. So, I went by myself. Walking about two miles through the quaint village of San Siro and on to Bagnoli, I caught a bus that traveled north to Padova. I took one more bus from there to Venice and I found myself standing in the famous Saint Mark’s Square.
How does an 18-year-old country boy from the woods of Snohomish County process the sensual overload of a moment like that? I swaggered over to a nearby bar, ordered a cappuccino and a panino — the only things I knew how to order in Italian — and fueled up for an unforgettable experience.
Believe me, I had never seen anything like Saint Mark’s Church. It took a good hour just to scratch the surface of its priceless decorations.
Then I left the church, crossed the courtyard, and climbed up the high bell tower.I could see the whole city from the top. I stood high above Venice, right next to the massive church bells, until they started clanging. It was quite a while before my ears stopped ringing.
Venice is famous for its narrow streets and almost endless canals. For the next four hours, I wandered aimlessly, not caring about anything but what might be around the next corner. My Instamatic clicked almost nonstop until I ran out of the film I had purchased in the P.X. As long as periodic bars supplied me with a cappuccino and panino, I trudged onward.
Toward the end of the day, I realized I did not know how to find my way through the maze of narrow streets so I could get myself back to base. In short, I was lost.
After wandering long enough to realize I could not find my way out, I stopped at a magazine stand and purchased a street map. With its help, I managed to eventually find my way and catch the very bus I needed.
Life can be as tangled as those endless Venetian streets. When that happens, I have found the Bible to be more helpful to me than that good street map of Venice — or anywhere else. Psalm 119:105 reads, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
I am so glad the Bible tells us how to grow in faith, how to walk in God’s will, and how to make good decisions about the present that will affect our future. It provides spiritual nourishment and the firm confidence that as we put into practice what we read, we will safely arrive at the final destination.
Rev. Richard M. Cary is a retired pastor who serves as an Elder with the Northwest Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God, is a published author and attends Faith Assembly in Pasco. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.