Found another little golden nugget, or should I say visual feast, today as I continued to transfer files onto my hard drive. Couldn’t help but revel in the austere beauty of the work of Michelangelo, as witnessed while visiting Vatican City, Summer 2009.
Don’t mind the “background noise” of Rob and I discussing our poor videotaping capabilities. If I could, I’d mute it. But, take just a few moments to look up. While roaming in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rob and I once again became overwhelmed by its’ history and Christ’s words in Matthew 16:18, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.”
It has been written:
“If we go to the outside of the apse and study Michelangelo’s arrangement of windows, pilasters, geometric panels, cornices,
and dripstones, we perceive a message that is not merely artistic. We can intuit the solidity of the Church through the great horizontal lines
before us. At the same time, the powerful vertical thrust of the mighty pilasters is crowned by corinthian capitals. A tension tending towards
transcendence is strongly evoked by the propelling force of the cupola, something made emphatic by the sixteen double columns with vaulting
ribs that lead all the way up to the cupola’s skylight. The cupola, with its massive profile, seems to be yearning for universality. Michelangelo
wanted it immense, so that it would ’embrace all the Christian peoples of the earth.’ The inside of it could be a pictorial description of Paradise
itself. Through the sixteen large windows, broad ribbons of shimmering light might appear to the visiting pilgrim as if forming a staircase down
from heaven itself.”
Oh, this visiting pilgrim most certainly felt the presence of God. Arms opening to the world. Inviting us all to lay down our lives for the greater cause. As I climbed the stairs to the cupola, I prayed. Somehow my time in the Vatican City infused new courage and fortitude for sharing the gospel with the world. Particularly, women around the world. Finally, we reached the top. People from all over the world brought together by the beauty of Michelangelo’s work.
Heaven will be the same. Men, women, and children, from all over the world will be brought together by the beauty of God’s work. Wow. I’ve got to
let that thought sink in. The writer, Stendhal, wrote of the cupola. “Go directly beneath the cupola. You must sit on a wooden bench and lean back
as far as possible. That way, it will be possible to rest while contemplating the immense void that hovers above. However little one might possess of
true spirituality, the imagination cannot fail to be staggered by the experience.”
Staggered indeed. When was the last time you were staggered by the presence of God? Refreshed by the beautiful work of another in your life?
If St. Peter’s Basilica could talk, and I believe it really did to me, I believe it would say, “Life is short, dear Christian. Sometimes the climb to
the top will be arduous (and boy, was it), but climb. The beauty that awaits will take your breath away.”
Pray for your “cathedral” today. Your community of faith. Your church family. As we carry on this conversation, let’s lay down our egos and pick up the
humility of Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5 says, “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”