Bloom WhereYou are Planted!

It takes about 2 1/2 hours by bus to get from Rome to the Amalfi coast. Our driver Gianncarlo does a masterful job negotiating the endless near-miss that is standard Italian traffic. We Americans marvel at Italian pedestrians who walk brazenly along streets and thoroughfares, never flinching or even noticing that they but are inches from being run down by not only our bus, but also the small cars that hurtle past us, and the motorcycles and scooters that zip along beside us. I mean, these people don’t turn sideways, don’t “make themselves small”, they DON’T NOTICE death crazily leering at them as they saunter along, daring some accident to occur… The road to Amalfi runs past the ruins of Roman aqueducts, marvels of engineering and construction, past centuries-old monasteries and farmhouses, alongside lovely green fields, farms, and groves of trees. It continues to progress, past super markets and IKEA, shopping malls and gas stations. Social wear and tear becomes more evident, and gang graffiti litters the walls along the highway here and there. Near Napoli it converges with commerce, and the byways get dirtier, more actively used. There are signs of dusty construction and industry. A plant alongside the road has goods made and stacked, pallets ready to be loaded onto trucks. Seemingly out of place to an American eye, a fairly large statue of Jesus overlooks the outdoor employee break areas, arms outstretched in encouragement and approval. Farther down the road, more of the bustle of business besmirches the countryside. Evidence of shipping activity abounds at a plant where there are stacks of big metal containers marked Yang Ming and Italia. The residences around this part of town are drab multi-story apartments, the kind with doors and windows open, trash on the porches, and laundry hung out to dry. They look dingy and lived in. As we pass a particularly dirty manufacturing plant, I see something right beside the freeway and overlooking the exit ramp. There is a bright splash of color, actually 3 bright splashes, that stand out from their gray and dusty surroundings like an opera singer at a hoe-down. They are 3 beautiful flower boxes on an immaculate front porch, an oasis of beauty in an otherwise drab and dirty world. The flowers are bursting with beauty, and everything about the residence looks, well, cared for. There is no indication of more money, no ostentation, nothing expensive on the front porch to say, “we outspent our neighbors”; but there is care and time and nurture leaping out of this home, at least what I can tell from my five second observation of this lovely porch as we drive by… Love leaps from this porch, and as I feel it, so do lessons and applications. Things I thought: wow, what a difference nurture makes! What or who am I nurturing? It’s amazing how just being cared for makes something more beautiful. Have I thanked someone lately for making me more beautiful? (uh, thanks Nancy, you are awesome!) and who am I making more beautiful? And lastly, I realized that beauty can jump out sometimes when you least expect it, unlooked-for, from otherwise drab and simple surroundings. If you assume it’s not there, you might miss it! So wherever you are, keep looking! It doesn’t have to be on the way to Amalfi.