Thursday, July 28, 2011

Who Is She?

Don't ask my why, but I saw the picture of this woman while walking through the Vatican Museum, and now I am obsessed. Her face, among many in the famous painting by Raphael, The School of Athens, I zoomed right in on. Barely focusing on the tour guide's narrative through my whisperer ear piece, I stared into her eyes. Who is she? Why does she captivate me in this way? I snapped a picture of her, forgetting to take in the entire canvas of beauty, and we made our way out of the room. I caught a tidbit about how the "recent movie" had made this "heretic" famous. Her name? Well, with a heavy Italian accent, I could swear the guide said, "Ipstatia" or something like that. Now, after coming home and finding I am still preoccupied with this woman, I have learned her name is Hypatia.

Why do such things grip us unexpectedly?

Who is Hypatia? Who is the historical figure? Better yet, who is the woman modeling for Raphael?

To be continued...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Expect the Unexpected

It’s been two weeks since my mom dropped a happy bomb. “Hey, how ‘bout we take a cruise around the Mediterranean on July 17th?” Staring at a calendar filled with summer activity, I held the phone and went mute. A cruise around the Mediterranean. The words didn’t register. Words alien to my world of dirty laundry and kids’ schedules, I thought again about what she said. A cruise around the Mediterranean.

Still, nothing was getting through.

She kept talking. “You said you wanted to do something like that with me. It’s now or never. I’m not getting any younger, you know.”

Time’s hourglass sand appeared in my mind, slipping into a big mound at the bottom with my mother’s name on it. She’s 81, but Fate can take her either way. Half her people died of sudden, massive heart attacks (one while playing cards). The other half could have advanced science if they had enrolled in longevity studies.

I counted the days on the calendar. “But that’s only three weeks from now.”

“Can we do it? I see a great deal here on a trip that takes us from Rome to Sicily to Athens to Ephesus to Crete.”

I paused. “Well, Bea has a field hockey camp and I see dentist appointment for July 19.” I stuttered as I floated between whimsy and responsibility. “Mom, that would be amazing!” I yelled. “But I just can’t wrap around it right now. It’s overwhelming. Can I get back to you?”

“Talk it over with everyone and call me back. If we do this, I gotta book it now.”

Doesn’t the Bible say somewhere, “Ask and you shall receive?”

Well, I did ask for this. About six months ago, I had asked my mother if she would consider taking my children overseas on some kind of educational trip. “Dock it from my inheritance, if I have one,” I said, feeling cheeky. I suggested Israel. She said they were too young. She suggested London/Paris. I thought that’d be great. We talked about this in a way a little girl would talk about wanting to grow up and be Hannah Montana. I never really thought we’d actually do it.

My mom loves to travel. She was in Egypt days before its people decided to oust Mubarak for good. She’ll be cruising along the Panama Canal with her friend, Alice, in October. “Come on, Mom,” I had said. “Would you consider going somewhere with us?”

Now it was happening.

“If it’s meant to be, it will be,” my mom said. “Don’t sweat it. Talk it over with your family and call me back.”

“If it’s meant to be, it will be.” Such a cliché, but so true. What if we all lived our lives that way? What if we let go and realized that we weren’t really in the driver’s seat, but Someone Else was? What if we really accepted that? What if, rather than live by the world of checking off our to-do lists, we adopted a motto I learned way back when from the Papua New Guinea culture – “Expect the unexpected”?

What if we truly lived like that?

Life does take strange turns. Mine is steering me onto a flight to Rome next week with my mom and three girls (Sadly, Tim has to work. ☹).

I certainly didn’t expect this unexpected twist.

Perhaps I should have.