Plowing New Ground

I am in month eight of language classes, and I feel like I have just begun to understand a little of what I hear and read. On occasion I can even follow one sentence with another in conversation.  The “language acquisition experts” (read: my wife) say that learning a new language in later years (not sure what she means with that) requires that the mind reopen channels of learning that have hardened and closed. I wondered what that loud noise was in my head each night when I go to bed!

There is an incredible beauty to the Italian language, and the Italian people who speak it. It shouts, it caresses, it sings, it embraces, and it kisses you on both cheeks. I can hardly wait till I get past the present tense! I have heard a lot of people say – I love Italy! For someone to say he is in love with Italy would be a  claim that’s hard to pin down. Are you in love her people, her statues, her climate – which runs the length of the thermometer, her night life, her food, her pace of life,  her diversity?

My first impression is that, to fall in love with Italy is to first fall in love with her land, mountains, valleys — her soil and rock and water. Italians come and go, but Italy’s soil has always been. Deep, rich, smelly close up; and everywhere you go, the Alps, the coasts, the plains, the Apennines, have and are shaping the region. Her land is her life. The continuity of what Italy means. That’s why Italians are so picky about their food. You eat what is in season, from you garden or local if possible, but from Italy by all means. Very little preservatives, and if you have any dirt at all, you create a garden.

My first drive south from Torre Pellice to Perugia through the Apennines, I fell in love with Italy’s land. Everywhere I look, even from the coast, I see hills, mountains, fields of whatever is in season. Spring is just greening here, and the vines and kiwis and orchards are coming alive with promise of a good season of fruitfulness. But it’s not just the food it produces as much as the lifestyle that is tied to her soil.

One of my favorite stories is of Jesus describing how seed fits into soil, and how soil is sometimes resistant to the seed. Because it is busy trying to grow other stuff not nearly as fulfilling. Because it cannot get past the worries of today and see the joyful potential of the harvest. Or because it has been pounded on by life, or has rejected seeds for year, and is crusted over. The one thing in common in each of these is a dire need to be worked by the Farmer. If I could ask you to pray for one thing over the next year for me, it would be… God, keep Rick’s soil turned and ready for seed, and let Rick and Susan and Rachael plant good seed wherever and whenever they can. And let the soil be fertile and ready for the seed to sprout and bear fruit all over Italy… and beyond! And where it is not ready, let it be open to the touch of the Master Farmer.

All For Him – from the Fields,