Rome was wondrous – the weather was sunny and perfect, the morning and afternoon light transfixing, the history and beauty overwhelming. There is so much there. So much. I barely scratched the surface – like Michelangelo making his first shallow cut into a chunk of Carrara marble. That first afternoon, I took the metro to Vatican City and the Musei Vaticani. This is a huge complex that would take years to even begin to absorb. I followed the Friday afternoon masses through the rich corridors.
And, then, beyond, into the Capella Sistina. And I was so glad to see it again.
“Silenzio, per favore!” “Quiet, please!” It did no good, really; the shushing was to no avail. The Sistine Chapel is considered a sacred place and, as such, is to be treated with reverence and solemnity. However, if you have oh, say, two hundred people in the same room gaping upwards, and making I-am-in-awe noises, enforcing “silenzio” is near to impossible.
I miraculously found a seat in the crowded chapel and sat before pensive Jeremiah, his head resting ponderously in his hand.
From my vantage point, he looked to be brooding over the noisome masses, just as he must have done many centuries before. “My God, my God, can’t you just make them simmer down awhile? You see, I have this whole section of the Old Testament to write and this noisy brood is awfully distracting…” And, of course, to my left (to Jeremiah’s right), in the center of this supernatural masterpiece, was God, extending with intention his right arm and index finger to Adam, suffusing him with life.
It was – all at the same time – terribly touching, loving, and fierce. (I may not have said it – because I was following the rules – but I definitely thought, “I am in awe.”) And, interestingly, just as God reached with desire toward Adam, in another frame, Adam reaches (with his right index finger) toward his desire, the irresistible fruit in the hand of the charming serpent-man, wound about the Tree of Life…
“No photos!” That, too, was a lost cause, I’m afraid, what with technology the way it is now and the magnificence that surrounded us. And, I was sorely tempted – like Adam? – but resisted and did not take a photo. I bought a magnet, instead.
If only Adam could have bought a magnet…
(To be continued…)