Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lux Lucet en Tenebris & Chocolate

Morale was slumping under the weight of homework assignments, culture shock, and spiritual housecleaning.  This was the week we pushed our students into their hearts, and some were visibly shaken. 

"Our students need more serotonin!" declared our dance instructor, and that's all the encouragement some of us a week marked by such power, depth and soul-shaking truths, spiritual battles being fought and won, it was time for chocolate!

Four of us headed out.  We walked to the bus, changed in Luserna, met our guide, and continued on up the hill to the Caffarella Factory,  a local phenomenon curiously unknown to the rest of the world.  Receiving our pass from the guard at the gate, we entered a fragrance as as delicious as the free samples.  Dozens of euros later, we exited with sugar shock, gifts and personal stock in hand, and walked to the next town, where we awaited pick up. 

But first, a couple of stops: to the fabric store for more fabric scraps, in anticipation of making story ropes with women at the Salvation Army; then onto the coffee shop for more ultimate Italian coffee (obligatoire with the fine chocolates).  And finally, onto the Waldensian Museum and Cultural Center, to immerse ourselves more in the history of this valley.  An hour later we staggered out, and again I find myself asking the question, how did we end up here?! 

After poring over the dioramas, studying maps and charts, graphs and old photos, sitting in some of the old wooden pews and leaning on an old pulpit, we realized in a deeper way how much an epicenter of Christianity this area is, and why it is not better known.  Armchair theologians, seminary professors and church history buffs, you need to visit the Waldensian valleys!

The Waldensian motto is "Light Shines in the Darkness"--yet how far from glory it has fallen.  Truly a Haggai sort of history, and one wonders what happened.  The church is now liberal, nominal, and marginalized from Italian culture.   

Lux Lucet en Tenebris--"the light shines int he darkness"--the emblem of the Waldensians is everywhere.  What happened to reduce the light to a fragile flicker?  Since no one was there to answer our questions, we determined to return for a guided tour with our students.  One could spend months here, in the library and photo center.  We have 7 more weeks...we can still put a good dent in our ignorance! 

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