If you’re out fishing, how do you identify your own house back on shore? One way is to paint your house a unique colour. That’s the story of the incredible colours that make up the villages of the Cinque Terre, situated on a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. Cinque Terre means “The Five Lands” and comprises five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, including the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are many things about the villages of the Cinque Terre that are memorable including the quaint multi-coloured houses and shops, the precipitous roads we travelled to visit the villages, and the amazing scenery. But one of the things that stood out for me was the way in which the people of the village continue to live as they have done for centuries, making a living from vineyards perched high above the villages in terraced gardens.
The grapes of the Cinque Terre are used to produce two locally made wines, the Cinque Terre and the Sciachetrà, and all are grown on the side of rocky mountainsides that seem almost impossible to reach.Yet, for centuries the people of the Cinque Terre have maintained this lifestyle and have supported their livelihood in difficult circumstances.
For some of us, life is precarious. There are many pressures and life seems to be lived on the side of a rocky hillside. I’ve been encouraged by the Apostle Paul who described his life like this:
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
He then went on to acknowledge the way in which Jesus sustained him with the words: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul went on: Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Life may be precarious, but the grace of Jesus is trustworthy.