Friday, July 23, 2010

Via del Nazareno

Our prayer leader challenged us at the 6:30 am prayer time:

“Do you believe your prayers can make a difference?”

A few hours later, we were launched into Rome—in a ball of confusion. The buses to transport us to the train station arrived in the middle of lunch (which had miraculously been served on time), necessitating a scramble for fruit, rolls and waterbottles, maps, literature, teammates, hats and suntan lotion.

The mass exodus happened in three waves: two buses left about 12:45, and a third at 1:30. We had to go in groups of 10 (cheaper tickets) and return in groups of 5 (during commuter rush hour). Another scramble as everyone tried to find their teammates in the swarming hundreds of Transform participants and commuters on. Are you confused yet? (The more seasoned types knew we would probably never be checked for tickets, and just boarded.)

Fifteen minutes later, spit out into Rome’s Termini station, we swarmed around looking for teammates again, as of course the ‘groups of 10’ concept didn’t really work. We plucked artists and dancers from the crowd, and planned our strategy.

With our prayer leader and a friend, I took a cab (in deference to various hurting body parts); we put our team on the subway to meet up with us two stops along the line—and never saw them again until dinner at the hotel.

Our plan was to prayer walk a Renaissance route, reclaiming the arts for Christ, there at the geographical heart of the Renaissance, the greatest flourishing of the arts in Western Civilization. Another Artslink team went to the Vatican.

We headed to Piazza Venezia, on Capital Hill, where sits one of the most imposing edifices in all of Rome. From there, we would start our prayer walk, heading up Via del Corso towards Piazza del Popolo, stopping to pray at the many Renaissance sites I had marked off on my map.

At Piazza Venezia, exiting the cab into a furnace of heat and a pack of tourists (all the Romans were at the beach if you asked me), we began climbing...the edifice was on a high place, and we love to pray from a high place. Fortunately, at the top of the high place, there was a reviving breeze and some shade.

We could barely see below us for the light blinding off the white marble. Squinting into it, I searched for our team, feeling like the loser leader, but it was hopeless. We prayed on.

On our descent, I noticed a placard which designated this spot as the Altar of the Nation; behind us the ‘Goddess of Rome’ stood in an honored niche, a flame and flowers at her feet, and two soldiers standing guard. We prayed again—rejecting the counterfeit authority and invoking the name of Jesus as the true God of Rome. A few praise songs, and we were at the bottom of the hill.

Still no team... while I continued to pray at the gate, my colleagues went off looking for them, but soon returned, shrugging their shoulders. We decided to push forward and trust the team would find their way home. Up the Via del Corso we went.

As we prayerwalked, we passed site after site of Renaissance history. I shared the little bits of history I knew, so motivated to research more, and soon we were at the famous Trevi Fountain. Gelato or no gelato?! We decided we were still ‘on duty’ and kept walking.

On across the Via del Tritone, where we arrived at the corner of a narrow side street, filled with kitsch and cafés, another site I had marked off on the map. As we got into single file to navigate the crowd, my friend suddenly stiffened, stopped and turned.

“Someone just said to me ‘Who do you think you are...” She looked back, scanning the crowd.

Our prayer leader caught up with us and asked what was going on. She repeated, “Someone just said to me ‘Who do you think you are?...The Spirit of Anti-Christ reigns here!’”

Whoa!!!! What was that?! Voices in her head? An emissary of the evil one? Imagination? We didn’t know—but you can imagine our prayers after that!!!

And guess what the name of that little street was that we were about to enter, famous for I know not what in Renaissance history?

Via Nazareno—the Way of the Nazarene.

“Do you believe your prayers can make a difference?”

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