Take Notice of What's In-Between


I went to Rome hoping to experience it as the Romans do.

I wanted to peek under the layers, walk down hidden alleyways, and notice what was tucked between the landmarks.

I wanted to see Rome, but with the insight and expertise of a local.

That was my idea anyway, and what prompted me to join a tour with an American who had lived in Rome for nearly 30 years.

She offered an insider's view, with visits to her favorite eateries, accommodations in an apartment a few doors down from her own, and a welcome dinner in her very own Roman kitchen.

This was the hidden {and delicious} Rome I wanted to see, and it convinced me to take the trip.



Since I live in a tourist town myself {Orlando, Florida} I know there's far more to see here than just theme parks. But you have to get off the beaten path to notice what's tucked beside our scenic lakes and hidden inside our artsy neighborhoods.

Learning to appreciate the in-between spaces of our lives takes some effort and practice.

I've actually spent a lot of time there through the years. Between jobs, between homes, between trips, between friendships, to name just a few.

But those spaces -- sometimes empty and discouraging, often silent and disorienting -- offer the richest, deepest times of contemplating who God is to me. 

As uncomfortable as it may feel, that's how my faith is stretched, how my spiritual habits develop strength, and where I replenish my heart's supply of hope and joy and anticipation for the journey ahead.



When I'm stuck in-between, looking at where I've come from and longing for where I want to go, the in-between connects what's been and what's yet to come.

It's the bridge, not a chasm. It joins, not separates.

The in-between welcomes me into its confining space {that actually feels protective} to stay awhile and seek a different perspective from God that's different from my own.

That's when I see what's previously escaped my notice.

Like a glimpse of the stark profile of the Colosseum between the buildings or the top of a church steeple rising above the fountains or a cross embedded in the windows of an apartment.



Did I really see a cross?

In Rome as I kept an eye on the uneven cobblestones {and promised myself I'd find flatter shoes next time} I tried to look down every street and around every corner so I wouldn't miss something extraordinary.

But in a city where crosses are common and images of Mary and saints abound, I wasn't sure if a cross was meant to be in the window ahead of me or if the windowpane just looked like a cross from where I was standing.

Maybe that's just part of Rome's mystery.

And maybe that's part of the mystique -- the awe, really -- of trying to see our lives more like God does.


I wondered too, if after you've lived in Rome for awhile you take for granted all the remarkable art, culture and history surrounding you. Do Romans ever stop noticing?

But our tour leader stopped short on a walk across town one morning and pointed to the building in front of us.

"Look what they've uncovered!"

I wasn't sure at first what she was referring to because the whole building was surrounded in scaffolding and looked like an archeological work in progress.


Was it the ancient bricks under the columns or the arches or the words above the columns?

But she was talking about the frescoes above one of the arches.

She said she'd just noticed them and swore they weren't there last week.

She marveled at the bright colors and said that was one of the best things about living in Rome {other than the food, of course} -- there was always a new discovery uncovered from the past.



She told us there's always something new so Rome never gets old.

I kind of like that train of thought. So since I've returned, I'm doing as the Romans do.

As far as looking deeper, that is, along with buying cheese made in Italy and Italian coffee from my own grocery store to recreate some of the deliciousness I enjoyed in Rome.

And just between you and me, there's plenty to notice in this in-between time.



And if you'd like to read about a gem of a winery and olive oil farm I visited in the hills of Umbria, come join me at Culture with Travel






I'm visiting with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart.



Comments

  1. Dear Valerie, what a terrific analogy! For me, the in-between sometimes feels like God hit the pause button on our lives. I don't always enjoy it, but it always seems to alter, even slightly, my perspective. Thank you for sharing your pics of Rome. That's how we saw Venice, and can't wait to return. Blessings on your travels near and far.

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    1. Hi Alice,
      Oh I love that thought about a pause button! Sometimes it's so necessary, isn't it?

      I haven't visited Venice yet but it looks so beautiful and it's a possibility for 2019! Thanks for being here!

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  2. I love your blogs. Always something beautiful to see and thoughts to ponder. xo

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    1. Hi Susan,
      Pondering is what I'm doing a lot of these days so I'm happy to share them -- along with my photos! :) xo

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  3. Beautiful photos as always! Somehow, even when your posts don't center on food, I am always hungry after reading! I just want to eat pasta and uncover frescos instead of being in the office today!!

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    1. Brittany, I think uncovering frescoes would be much more preferable to office work - shall we go find some?!! :) ha

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  4. Valerie!!! How I love your new site design- so fresh and simple ♥ And your pictures as always make me want to travel! The cross in the window was my favorite-- it's all in how you look at it - and much the same with life...! I was glad to see your post-- the summer seems to have slowed us both down in writing. I hope things are well with you my dear and I know what you mean about the in between spaces-- they're not void, but rich in lessons on how to prepare for the next phase :) Got some preparations of my own going around here which is why I can't seem to find a minute to finish any writing! Can't wait to hear more about how you have been my friend! xoxo

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    1. Hi Heather,
      I've missed your posts too, but I think the space for me has been good! Hope your summer is going well and thanks so much for your compliments on the blog's makeover :) -- I'm still tweaking it. :) So glad you liked the little cross in the window, too. I can't wait to hear what's been brewing in your little corner of the world! xoxo

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  5. I'm so happy to see you out and about, to savor your writing and your glorious photos once again, Valerie. Please know you were missed ... I hope your break has been a time of replenishing for your spirit.

    We are so blessed to live in a place where people visit from all over the world. I remind myself all the time to appreciate the beauties, the nooks and crannies, the grandeur of nature, of waves, of sand.

    He restores our souls, doesn't He ...

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    1. Thank you Linda! It wasn't really intentional but just sort of evolved into a little respite from deadlines :) but I love looking into crannies -- isn't that where the treasure is always? Even if we're the only ones who see it that way! So glad to chat with you again! xo

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  6. I so enjoy your photos and the stories you weave 'in-between'. I've wondered the same thing about the locals. Do they get so use to seeing the art and what is incredible to that it's barely noticed? I suppose they're as use to it as you are to seeing Mickey and we are to the beaches. Many lessons in your posts Valerie. I do enjoy them.

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    1. Hi Debby,
      You are so right about us being immune to Mickey and Minnie around here when families come from all over the world to go here! :) I never get tired of the beaches though . . . xo

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  7. Such wonderful thoughts of time spent in the "in-between". Sometimes, the most profound lessons are learned in the waiting room. I loved seeing all of the amazing pictures, and I love the new look of your blog! You are such a blessing, my friend. May God bless you abundantly!

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    1. Hi Cheryl,
      Love that -- profound lessons in our waiting rooms -- so very true! And thanks for enjoying the new look around here! :) xo

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  8. "The in-between welcomes me into its confining space {that actually feels protective} to stay awhile and seek a different perspective from God that's different from my own." I love this line. When we're stuck in the in-between, not moving, we are still. "Be still, and know that I am God." That is a comforting spot, to be protected in and to be not striving--no pressures. You got me pondering, Valerie. And feeling just better about life and where I'm at too. Beautiful photos!

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    1. Lynn,
      Loving what you said about being still -- and I'm finding that I am enjoying it! I think being in a place where striving stops and start noticing the small around us and being content is where I want to stay. xo

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  9. Your pictures always make me feel like I'm right there with you! I love the beauty of looking between and around the obvious, but I don't always like those times in life. Guess I need to see them differently so I don't miss anything!

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    1. Sarah,
      I'm glad you can join me on my walks around Rome virtually! (Because I'm not savvy enough to have done any Instagram stories! ha!) I'm growing to rather enjoy the in-betweens -- they're rather peaceful and beautiful in their own way! :) xoxox

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  10. Hi Valerie!!
    I was so happy to see your post!! I have missed them and connecting with you. I have thought about you and have wondered how your summer is going! I love this post! As always it is beautiful in words and images and has such good thoughts for me to think on and digest! I love your thoughts on the in between places. I find them hard and uncomfortable, but spaces where I grow. Looking back on these times for me they seem challenging in many ways, but have also been the places that have forced me to expand my thinking, and have helped me to open my hands to what God has for me there. Anyway there are treasures there as you have said. I think I just need practice seeing these times as good and precious. I am in an in-between place now in some areas of my life. Thank you for encouraging me to hunt out the gifts God has for me here instead of wishing to be somewhere else and missing out! So great to visit with you! xoxoxo

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    1. Hi Susie,
      I've missed you too, this summer but I can only guess that you're enjoying your kids being home! I wonder if we find ourselves in-between in some way or another more often in the heights or depths? And maybe the in-between is the steadier place, the place where we regain our balance? Anyway I'm starting to see it as a good place! :) I'm hoping you can find some of those good things in your in-between place too and I want you to know that I LOVE hearing from you too and connecting with you, too! Much love! xo

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  11. Valerie, it's always so amazing to follow along everything you learn in your travels and in the everyday of life. Your insight is so wonderful. This was a beautiful lesson. I was just talking about this with one friend, commenting on how it seems like so often in those stretching times God seems to be silent and we get no answer. But I was reminded that just as the teacher is silent during the test or exam, sometimes God remains silent too for us to learn and to show what we have learned. It isn't easy, but the end result can be so beautiful if we just endure and let the stretching be done in us. Thank you for sharing this wisdom, friend. Be blessed!

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    1. Hi Ronja,
      I'm always so happy to see you here! I can imagine as you transition from academic life to work that you are in a stretching season of in-between, and I think it's so interesting that even when we think God is silent, in time (without hurrying) answers make their way to us to offer us a new perspective. xoxo

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  12. I love the way you ferret out these details and connections, sometimes you miss them while concentrating on just finding your way along the bumpy road.- Mom

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    1. Yes, keeping an eye on that bumpy road does make you miss things sometimes!

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  13. Hi Valerie ... I love your take on the in-between spaces of life ... so comforting and full of hope. And in real life too ... it's amazing what we notice when we start to really look, isn't it? Speaking of looks, I love what you've done with your blog--very fresh and pretty! Hugs, friend!

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  14. Looks like you have spent a great time in Rome. All pics are beautiful. Your thoughts (experience) are so helpful.

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    1. Stephanie,
      Thanks so much for stopping by!

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