Cinque

Post image for Cinque

by DanWolgemuth on March 24, 2017

I spotted a 3 by 5 card on the desk in our hotel room. The importance of the evening was not lost on me. Our first getaway dinner in Athens. We had spent the day doing what tourists do in Athens… history class in hiking shoes. And now the search was on.

With wifi in my hotel room I leaned into TripAdvisor for some input. Of the 3019 restaurants logged, I noted with gratitude that the #1 rated restaurant was within a mile and a half of our hotel. Perfect.

Quickly, a problem emerged. I had opted not to enhance my cellular coverage to include international travel, so once I walked out the front door of our small hotel, I was on my own in navigation. Even my dog-eared map was of no use. The route to The Cinque restaurant was impossible to precisely chart.

So now, back to the 3 by 5 card I spotted.

I carefully began to write the road names… and then quickly added the distance that would be traveled on each leg of the journey to the #1 restaurant in Athens. The link on the restaurant’s website gave me a reservation option, but the uncertainty of the journey and the unrushed schedule constrained me away from this option.

And so, into the uncertainty we stepped. No tech support, no nifty app at hand… just a card with nine street names written on it. Nine.

Add to that the fact that the street names often only approximated the version of the name that GoogleMaps had provided me before I left the hotel.

This was an important evening… and a 3 by 5 card was my treasure map.

With a classic American perspective, I had assumed that the best restaurant in Athens would have exceptional seating capacity, with a hostess at the front door informing us of what the wait time would be. Perhaps they would hand me a trendy little notification device so that when our table was ready, we would know. But I digress.

A 30-minute stroll through the Plaka District of Athens… with six right turns and three left, I was absolutely stunned to find a tiny little store front. I glanced up to make certain that the sign read Cinque. It did.

The owner of the restaurant met us at the door. A quick handoff to his wife after he confessed his inability to speak English and after my matching confession about my Greek.

News flash. The best restaurant in Athens has three or four small indoor tables. There were a few extras on the sidewalk out front… but the chill in the air eliminated that possibility.

At that moment we were the only customers. Yes, the only ones. No 45-minute wait. No cool electronics required.

A corner table. Mary.

Magic.

My 3 by 5 card had navigated me to magic.

We sat. We talked. We reflected. We rested. And yes, we ate. At Cinque. #1 out of 3019 in Athens. Alone. Together.

We ended the evening with a picture of the owners and then a far less efficient return to that AVA Hotel.

No app. No cell phone. A 3 by 5 card…

A treasure map.

Magic.

On a 3 by 5 card.

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The Day I Met Heaven

by DanWolgemuth on March 17, 2017

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)

Two weeks ago I met Heaven. Seriously. I met her.

In fact, not only did I meet her, I also held her; I sang Happy Birthday to her… and I had the privilege of praying for her.

Heaven. A beautiful one-year-old from Egypt. Heaven.

It was at a Youth For Christ staff conference in the Middle East where I met her. In so many ways she was like any other one-year-old I’ve met and held… but it was her story that made this introduction different.

Heaven was birthed out of the ashes of despair and pain. At the impromptu birthday celebration, her mother shared about her decade-long journey of brokenness and crushing disappointment.

Cancer had taken their first daughter… at only eight months. A suffocating loss that was amplified with multiple subsequent miscarriages. Grief became a way of life. And hope was desperately fragile and painfully fickle.

Then Heaven. Conceived but doubted. Carried but with the burden that only grueling disappointment can produce.

March 2016 produced an unthinkable joy. A baby. Heaven.

Named to cast unquenchable light against the darkest night. Birthed into the praying arms of a mother and father who treasured her beyond the rarest of gems. Heaven.

As the story was unwrapped in the broken cadence of translation, the emotion needed no linguistic support. Tears. Laughter. More tears. Singing. Prayers. Cake.

A circle of celebration out of the ashes of pain. Heaven.

Joy. Unconstrained joy. Heaven.

When death has dealt its final blow. Heaven.

When cancer and miscarriages and brokenness and pain have hit with unconstrained force… Heaven.

The wait was over. Heaven.

The radiant glow of Heaven.

And while the crushing weight of death still lingers, and while loss is not erased, and while the fire of pain is not extinguished… Heaven.

It’s not often I witness uncontrollable joy. It’s not often I see the unbridled exuberance of love. It’s not often I can put a face with hope… Heaven.

Yes indeed, I met Heaven.

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Light of the World

March 10, 2017

You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may […]

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Again and Immediately

March 3, 2017

Again he went away and prayed, saying the same words.  And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him.  And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?  It is enough, the […]

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Candidly Unprofessional

February 24, 2017

It was almost exactly nine years ago that I met Rick Voit. Like me, he was attending the 60th birthday party of my brother Robert in Orlando, Florida. Rick’s connection with Robert began while Rick was a student at New Trier High School in the north suburbs of Chicago. Robert led a Youth For Christ […]

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Amplified by Grief

February 10, 2017

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (James […]

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“Well, do you know how to wrestle?”

January 27, 2017

Rowan, our three-year-old grandson, posed the question to Mary as she invited input on plans for the afternoon at our house. I have many vivid memories of interaction with my grandmother as a child, and I can unequivocally assure you that not only did I never verbalize a question like this, I never conceived of […]

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A Charlie-Sized Dream

January 23, 2017

A dream. A vision. But he who is noble plans noble things, and on noble things he stands. Isaiah 32:8 In early January I read this scripture. The ink for these words came from the heart of God. I was riveted by this thought, and inspired by the concept… but with lingering ambiguity of what this looked like in practice. Then, while standing in the basement of […]

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Sunscreen and Umbrellas

January 13, 2017

“For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” I live in Aurora, Colorado. On most days in our city, the sun shines. In fact, it doesn’t just shine, it envelopes us. We love it. That also means that on good […]

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Revisiting the Glimpse

January 9, 2017

Within the past several days I was escorted back to the front seat of an incident that happened privately many years ago in Munich, Germany. I’m guessing it was in 1999… but that’s irrelevant, except that the lingering impact of this experience hovers over my soul. I was in the center of my tenure with […]

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