31 May 2011

Re-encountering Christ in Rome in three acts

The aquatic deities of Roman mythology are depicted at the Trevi Fountains.

ROME, Italy—Choking while the rosary was being prayed in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore here Saturday, I was reminded that I am already dead. If the promise of Jesus Christ is that there is life after death, then I am ready for my resurrection now.

Second act: Seated at a streetside table at a café on Via Cavour after visiting the Coliseum and the Forum with my travel partner, a colleague from Kabul, I caught myself watching the couple at a table next to us. He was considerably older than her and they reminded me of you and I when we were a couple in love and traveled together. I wondered about their relationship, how they negotiated the differences in their ages, experiences and expectations.

Third act: In the Sistine Chapel, humbled under Michelangelo’s iconic ceiling, I wondered why it was necessary for the guards to cry “silenzio” to the crowds. What was the point of speech, but how much of my awe was only the consequence of having had Roman Catholic narratives to frame and interpret reality for me?

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