What a happy day it was. Little did we suspect that we would get caught up in a protest that day. With my daughter. With my Mama and Daddy. With my husband, an attorney in the Air Force (JAG).
Mama and Daddy came to visit us in Italy, where Keith served for three glorious years at Aviano Air Base, just north of Venice. We lived in a centuries-old small town, named Dardago, from 1984 to 1987.
Marveling at the beauty of Duomo di Milano, one of the largest cathedrals in Italy and Europe, we walked to the nearby shopping mall, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
“Did you know that this shopping area is one of the oldest shopping malls in the world?”
“Let’s stop for some pasta and sit outside the restaurant and enjoy the people.”
A man in stilts gingerly taps one stilt after another as he walks from one end of the mall to the other and back again.
“Look, he’s doing it again, but this time, a person with a drum is following him.”
Down to the end of the mall and back, he dances.
Another dance through the mall, this time, he’s tapping as the drum and cymbals follow him.
We’re all smiling and pointing. The other people in the mall have stopped to watch.
“There they are again. The drummer. The cymbal player. Now a juggler. They’re beckoning the people to follow them.”
Keith paid the bill. We all got up and followed the man on stilts and the crowd.
Outside the mall, the juggler continued. Another man began to do magic tricks. Music played.
Then, the carabinieri, Italy’s military police, and the shopping mall owner surrounded the crowd. The drummer started yelling at the carabinieri. Then everyone began yelling.
Keith and I looked at each other. “Communists.”
We’d been warned about how the communists would lure people, including Americans to parties and gatherings that then turned bad.
Here we are with my daughter and my parents in the middle of a shouting crowd.
“This is going to get ugly. We have to leave. Let’s push our way out of here.”
I grabbed Kristin and Mama, and we pressed through the crowd and back into the mall.
On our way back to the hotel, we explained and apologized for getting caught up in the angry mob.
It was so easy to be fooled. We were lured into what appeared to be a group of people who wanted to enjoy making people smile. The people in the mall weren’t planning to protest that day. We weren’t either. Yet, there we were in the middle of an angry protest.
My heart is broken today as I see the protesters and the riots. Many have gathered to peacefully protest injustice, and yet, they are getting caught up in the shouting, the looting, the destruction of property, and the hate.
There are better ways. God’s ways.
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14