Sunday, February 26, 2012

The College of the Uncles

On our  first full day with the students, we visited the rustic Waldensian 'seminary'--the "College of the Uncles"--a short drive into Torre Pellice, followed by a breath-taking ascent up the mountains, followed by a short climb up a very slippery slope. 

For those who were experiencing snow for the first time, it was an experience of wonder; for those of us who know snow all to well, it was an experience of wonder.  The height, the crystal clear air, and the line of students climbing up, in foot gear ranging from sneakers to hard-core mountain boots, felt like pure privilege.  The uninitiated fell quickly on the ice and snow; cameras were clicking in all directions and the snowballs were flying.  And then we climbed into the cold stone room that was the seminary, and faces fell somber as we sat and listened to its history.

One of the OM Italy staff told the story, and one of our students suggested we pray.  A few minutes later, we were exploring the other rooms--a dormitory smaller than my room at Forterocca, what looked like a kitchen, and one other small, nondescript room a level higher.  A few wrote in the log book and then we began our descent, slip sliding all the way, laughing and rejoicing in the moment. 

We skidded down to the more recently built temple (Waldensians don't call buildings churches), hanging off the mountain and overlooking the Catholic church below (Waldensians were restricted to certain altitudes).  More history, more snowballs, more deep thoughts to ponder as we drove home, jet lag sabotaging some, high spirits infecting others, and coffee awaiting us in the lobby of Forterocca. 

Why were we here, at this moment in time, and what might God be up to in Val Pellice?  

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