Imagine standing alone amidst the ancient marble walls of a church that has been standing alone on a florentine hill for over 1000 years. Now imagine visiting this church many times before with constant tourist chatter and photo flashes in the background. Surely one cannot find complete solitude in such a publicly known space…or so I thought.
I get goosebumps even now as I reflect on the moment God carved out time and space to meet alone with me in San Miniato church while studying abroad in Florence, Italy 8 years ago.
I was on my daily run and decided to challenge myself by running up the stairs leading to the San Miniato church entrance. I could feel the weight of gravity pushing down on me as I pushed forward towards “The gates of heaven” as inscribed on the front of the church. Little did I know, I would actually get a taste of heaven that day.
I knew something was different the moment I felt the heavy, oversized church door close behind me. The cold, dark marble interior was surprisingly inviting. Silence was my partner as I quietly progressed toward the back of the church before climbing another set of stairs towards a clerestory window beaming a sharp ray of light through the darkness.
As I reached the light, I stood reverently basking in its warmth, yet unsure of how to fully embrace the moment. Suddenly, without hesitation, I was brought to my knees. I kneeled in awe as the light penetrated my spirit and left me in a state of complete peace. I met my Creator that day and I will never forget the peace I experienced in my solitude.
I was reminded of this miraculous experience when my son rummaged through my drawer and pulled out a plastic bag with a San Miniato church pamphlet and candle inside as shown above. At first I thought nothing of it and took the bag from him to put it somewhere high, somewhere unreachable.
Tonight while cleaning up, I found that unreachable bag and it reminded me of the day God reached out to me, an unreachable person at times, and literally shed light in my darkness. This memory filled me with hope knowing God carves precious time to be with us if we carve out precious time to be with him.
I hope you are able to carve out your own San Miniato moment this week. The world needs your light.