Monday, December 12, 2011

A walk through The Vatican, Rome.

We are in Rome. St Peter's, The Vatican.
The familiar holy saints, each with a bird atop.

Here is the entrance to the Vatican Museum

and there is the familiar dome of St Peter's.

The work of art in the Vatican garden is
like the mystery of our world and our existence.
It both reflects and distorts what is around us
and wakens us to see differently.

I wonder how to see
in this place...

the grand stairways

and the rich treasures from antiquity.

I am fascinated by the overly bosomed goddess
among the ancient treasures.

She is Diana (Roman) or Artemis (Greek). 'She is the Earth herself,
whose mountains are breasts and her body is a dwelling place for all living creatures.'
I am intrigued with the concept of Goddess/Virgin that we meet everywhere.
I remember back to the Buddhist Monastery in Hongkong where we came across
A Goddess of Mercy.
To me there is an awe inspiring diversity of belief in the world.
Everything I look at is an attempt to explain the in-explicable..

I gaze at the beautiful marble floors

and the painted ceilings,

ornate and gilded.

Everything so rich in symbols

or, like the fabulous tapestries,  telling historical

and biblical stories.

There are fascinating ancient maps of the old world
that remind me we live with a different vision of the universe today.
We no longer fear dropping off the edge of the world,
nor do we believe the sun travels around the earth.

The Vatican Museum

leaves me gasping at the splendour
of the architecture and art.

I did not take photographs in the Sistine Chapel.
I was happy the visitors were quiet and thoughtful there
and I was content to sit and gaze in silence at Michelangelo's masterpiece.

I pondered on the meaning of it all
and all I can think is how little we know
and I feel humble when I see our human attempts at explaining the meaning of life
and the universe.

Maybe we get lost in our explanations
until the explanations become more important than
the mystery
they attempt to explain.

Control and power seem ever present in our world...
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  1. What a beautiful post. I love what you've said about our attempts to understand Life. I have been trying to extricate myself from too many possible explanations while learning to be a better listener to that "still, small voice." You are so right about control and power. We humans attempt to maintain the illusion of control even in our attempts to understand it. Thank you for these very wise words and beautiful images to carry with me throughout the day.

  2. Ah yes, Teresa E. The essence - to listen "to the still, small voice."

  3. Wow, Joan, it is so incredibly beautiful. What a place to see LIVE and to walk there. Thank you for sharing.
    Grethe ´)

  4. Joan, what over-whelming beauty. It must make your head whirl! I remember when my daughter was in Italy and she told me that she couldn't believe that everywhere she went - every walk she took - exposed another work of art beyond description.

    I loved your words about human attempts to capture the meaning of the universe and of life itself. Is that just a by-product of being human? Or is it a natural frailty? There is so much that can be experienced, intuited, honored and yet escapes captivity no matter the effort or form of attempted capture.

  5. Dear Joan, Your meditations so beautifully illuminate your photos. Thank you.

  6. What treasures you have seen, and how deeply you have contemplated everything. This is the best kind of travel writing.

  7. Oh, Joan, what beautiful pictures and how fabulously you have shared your trip. Thank you.

    I hope you don't mind, but, I've nominated you for a "Liebster Blog Award". I could only name five blogs, so, I, er, well, cheated a bit and included reference to Juliet and Marilyn as well. I have learned so much about your wonderful land and residents from all of you, and it all started with you. I posted it to day at

  8. You have more than a photographer's eye, Joan. You also capture the heartbeat. When we lived in Rome, I used to take the bus/metro to the Vatican and wander among the treasures you've shown here. After six months in Rome, we rotated to Nairobi. I eventually traveled to Sudan. The contrast of the two has lingered...I wish I could do more than grasp at history's what ifs - I'm sitting here in Virginia, as perplexed now as I was then. Anyway, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to You and Yours. I post Sunday; we pack our suitcases Monday; and hit the road for New Orleans on Tuesday. Just wanted to wish you holiday cheer in case time speeds up and I don't get to stop by later.