I was standing on the land of something that had been and still is the focal point of a vast spiritual and cultural community .Something that has and will continue to shape the minds of men , their attitude, their motives , their actions.Something that has and could exert a profound global impact.Something so potent and formidable , that its influencial dimensions cannot be paralleled.Its fascinating how the smallest country in the world touches almost every other nation and nearly every other aspect of human life.How it is a living system of ideas and values.How every decision it makes and takes,most certainly shapes the international political life.
Yes, I was in Vatican.Center of Roman Catholicism. Residence of the bishop of Rome, the Pope.
To be honest ,I was slightly apprehensive here.I was nervous about spilling out words that could make me sound blasphemous .Who knew what would be considered profane ?So ,I walked quietly from one sala (gallery) to another, in the Vatican Museum , revering every single masterpiece on exhibit.Works of art maestros like Raphael, Veronese, Caravaggio topped my list.What colors,what composition, what perfection,what brilliance ! However,every piece echoed the same message.
God. Religion. Faith. Belief.
What I didn’t realize was that soon I were to experience something so magnificent,something so completely beyond my imagination, that it would make my jaws drop, eyes pop, head turn , heart stop and the earth under my feet shatter.And so it did ..
I entered the final sala , the Sistine Chapel.Every corner and every inch of this place is gorgeous beyond belief!
Where should I turn ? What all should I see ? What should I feel ? How much should I absorb ? I just couldn’t decide.
Should I be looking at the altar wall flaunting the grand daddy of all frescoes ‘The Last Judgement’ or should I keep my head up and stare at the ceiling which has scenes from genesis ?
Should I progress towards the northern wall with stories on Jesus or should I go towards the Southern wall that depicts the life of Moses ? My head,eyes and feet could no longer coordinate where to turn ,what to see and where to go.My brain would no longer process what to capture and what to keep.The Chapel is literally a living organism.Every particle here breathes just one thing , God .God above all.Souls of humans rising and descending to their fates.The Separation of Light from Darkness.The Creation of Sun,Moon and Plants.The Separation of Land and Water.The Creation of Adam and Eve.The Original Sin.All the frescoes here very vividly showcase the entire sequence of our origin , our existence , our journey and eventually our departure.
Being here ,it’s hard not to contemplate about life. Its origin – how did the universe come into existence ? Its sustenance – what binds and balances all the elements together ? Its destruction – where does this eventually go ? Are all these biblical stories literally true or metaphorical references to something so convoluted that mankind hasn’t comprehended so far ? Is what we see,feel,touch,taste and hear the only five avenues of experiencing all the dimensions in life or are there others ?If so,are they existential but nascent that we are oblivious to their presence ? Has science got it all figured out or is spirituality trying to tell us something more ?
Deep in thoughts,I exited the Chapel and queued up at Saint Peter’s Square for an entry into St Peter’s Basilica.
After two hours of pondering in the slow moving queue ,I placed foot into one of the most magical places I’ve visited so far.There is something about St Peter’s that is very soothing , very peaceful, very sacred.My timings couldn’t have been more perfect.The choir was on their last song for the evening.
If Jesus created wine from water , bread from his body , we humans created emotion from music.The sounds of hymns and muted audience permeated through every molecule in the room and lulled my senses.I sat there imbued in the emotion,in the beauty, in the gratitude of being a part of this magnificent creation.
Soon after, the communion began (a service in Christian worship at which bread and wine are consecrated and shared). I’m not a Christian by faith .This should and could have been just a mere Christian ritual to me but after all that I had experienced through the day, this was building up to be something much more.As I extended my hands to receive the bread , I exchanged a quick mental dialogue with a seemingly higher power.Uh … maybe God.Who knows ?
I said , “Guide me, will you ? ” .
He replied, “Start where you are.Use what you have.Do what you can.The struggle you are in today will become your strength tomorrow”.
and then quietly left …