Roman Reflections

We had one day to explore Rome on our trip through the Mediterranean.  Surreal, because of jet lag, we took a taxi through the chaotic streets going by in a collage of a James Bond movie mixed with the soundtrack of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

But within a few hours, some semblance of consciousness returned and Richard and I so found ourselves at the great Vatican.  It’s an impressive city complex.  Pope John Paul had recently been beatified for sainthood.  An air or respect and awe permeated the visit. 

But Richard, being a ‘reformed Catholic’ had to put a little comedy into the tour, displaying his faith with extravagant gestures, while I hoped that we wouldn’t be ushered to the exit for sacrilege.  Maybe they had seen this before.  After all, the souvenir shops sold bobble head popes….so I realized that there probably would be a certain amount of contrasts in our observations.

Entering the Sistine chapel, a hush fell out over the crowd, the famous Michelangelo painting of God reaching out to man radiated from above.

But we couldn’t help but question, ‘Where were the paintings of the joy of the human condition?’  Man was depicted in all his sufferings, women often portrayed as causing that original sin.  No image seemed truly ‘happy’. 

The opposite contrast came at the Coliseum, where actors dressed as gladiators accosted us for photos and reenacted a short parody of the fight.  That ancient arena held 50,000 spectators all wanting to be entertained, to feel joy.

The temples of the gods and goddesses nearby also served as places to embrace the archetype they represented.

Yet, the temples are now in ruins, and Vatican city, well, it continues to influence not only Rome, but the world.

Our trip would continue to take us through both contrasts in the development of civilization:  religion versus the freedom of the human condition.

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