Day Two – A Room With a View:
* Today’s Prompt: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?
* Today’s Twist: Organize your post around the description of a setting.
Growing up in a family of seven children, not to mention the fact that we were a low-income family meant that the only places we ever went to were school, church, and our close relatives for the holidays. And to reach those destinations, we took a school bus to school, a city bus to church, and our relatives would pick us up to bring us to their homes because we didn’t even have a car. During my childhood, we never went on a vacation because we simply could not afford it. This did not mean that my childhood was unhappy. I had a wonderful childhood and I don’t feel as though I missed out on anything. But I did dream of traveling to other countries. And the one place that I have always wanted to visit is Rome, Italy.
Why Rome, Italy? My heritage stems from Irish, German and French descent so it’s not because I want to go to the home of my ancestors. And while growing up there was no one that I knew who had ever traveled to Europe, much less Italy. To tell you the truth, I’m not even sure when this idea of traveling to Rome entered into my thoughts; all I know is that one day it was there and I still long for such a dream vacation.
The Eternal City has a long history which is detailed throughout its churches, monuments and restored ruins. It offers so many sites to see that it would be difficult to choose only one: the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, the Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Castel Sant’Angelo, Palatine Hill, and Vatican City itself. It could very well be that my love of history is one of the reasons why I’m so interested in visiting.
But the one place that I could never miss in my trip to Rome would be the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. The Sistine Chapel is located in the Apostolic Palace, which is the official residence of the Pope. Not only does it serve as a place of religious and papal activity, but it is also the place where the papal conclave occurs when the time comes for the election of a new pope.
I can imagine myself walking through the doors of the Sistine Chapel, but in this experience, there is no one in the chapel but me. There is a hushed, almost reverent silence as I stand there alone. The soft light from the late afternoon sun is streaming through six arched windows mounted high on both sides of the chapel. I also notice life-size statues of various saints standing tall between each window.
The walls on the left are decorated with magnificent frescoes of scenes from the Old Testament depicting The Life of Moses. And the frescoes on the right wall are as equally magnificent and are scenes from the New Testament depicting The Life of Christ. They are stunning in their beauty and I am fascinated by their meaning.
And then I look up to see what I have always longed to see. There it is. Michelangelo’s famous painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
I gasp as I am awestruck by its beauty. It is truly an amazing work of art. There it is in all its glory – nine scenes from the Book of Genesis – and the most famous one of all I recognize immediately: The Creation of Adam. I can see the Creator stretching out his arm, his hand, his finger to Adam, giving him life, and I am filled with the wonder of it all. How did the artist Michelangelo ever do it? Such talent, such dedication, such love he must have had for his art.
My eyes are reluctant to leave this wondrous scene, but I follow the painting on the ceiling to the altar wall, which leads to Michelangelo’s other great work, The Last Judgment, which depicts Christ as the Judge, who compels the damned to hell with his left hand and lifts up the saved to heaven with his right. Surrounding Christ are the planets, the sun and the saints. This is a very powerful work and moving beyond words.
As I turn to leave the Chapel, I glance upward at the ceiling one more time, trying to burn in my mind and memory an image of The Creation of Adam. I realize that I could obtain an image of it anywhere, perhaps at the gift shop right next door to the chapel, but it just wouldn’t be the same as seeing it with my own eyes here in this place alone with my God and all the beauty that surrounds me. And I am grateful for this moment in time.