When I threw my coins in the Trevi Fountain in Rome in February 2009, I never imagined the first wish would come true. For years, Romans and visitors to Rome alike have tossed coins into the great fountain and made wishes. I turned my back to the fountain as is the custom and tossed in the first coin–the coin that is supposed to bring you back to Rome.
Rome greeted me like an old friendthat rainy February afternoon even though we had never met before. Like an old friend you can drink coffee with and feel instantly comfortable. Cobblestone streets that were well worn with history’s secrets rested under my feet and with each step I felt more at ease. St. Peter’s Basilica, which shone in the sun (once it came out) and forced everyone to stand in awe of its massive size ushered me into its holy space with the whispers of all the prayers of the saints who went before me. And of course, savory wine and bowls of pasta filled me up with flavors I never knew existed.
Perhaps it is my love affair with church history or my fourth grade infatuation with Roman civilization. Or maybe it was because I was traveling with people who love the same church-nerd things that I do. Probably a combination of all of the above. I was visiting Rome for a Global Baptist Peace Conference, a gathering of Baptists from around the world committed to a conversation about peace in all of our contexts. I managed to take a few more days vacation to just be in Rome.
Nothing makes me feel more alive than traveling. More alive, more free and more in touch with the world. I hold the philosophy that I would rather save up to travel that spend money on almost anything else. I also hold the philosophy that I will travel alone. I am single and there are places I want to go. There are certain insights about life that only come when you are traveling alone anyway. You have hours to think. I relish hours upon hours of uninterrupted time for my brain to clear of church stuff and to just have the space…to think. Usually on trips like these I give myself permission to write and journal. Nothing else is popping into my brain and I have the time to reflect.
But I’ve noticed a trend among my single rev friends. We often sacrifice our vacation time because we do not automatically have a traveling partner. I’m guilty of this sometimes too. I have watched as many friends say no to vacation time and sabbath. I am not even attempting to sugarcoat the idea of vacationing alone, but I also believe that if there is something you want to do- do it! We all need time away, whether that sabbath comes in the form of a vacation that’s been saved up for or just a few days out of the office. We need it because we must have time away to remind ourselves of who we are. When I first started at my church, my senior pastor said to me, “You have to make time for yourself. No one else will remind you and no one else will make you do it.” She was right and those words have helped me make choices about sabbath.
I guess that first coin worked because as you read this, I’m in Rome for the second time traipsing around those familiar city streets once again with two dear friends. We threw out this crazy vacation idea in the summer and made all our schedules work. We got creative with frequent flier miles, hotel points and Baptist connections. Those things helped make this trip a possibility.
My soul craves travel and new experiences and Rome once again offers sabbath to me. Here’s hoping we all relish our vacation time and reflect deeply.