Today was Vatican Day. The day I set aside to brave the Roman metro and see the beauty and wonder of St. Peter’s. I had actually planned on walking across the city to get there. I wanted to cross the Tiber River on foot and reflect on all the aspects of that journey. Alas, I’m a little sore today after two big walking days. The metro seemed the better option.
Thus far, I’ve found most people in Rome to be tolerant of me, the tourist. No hiding the fact that I’m not Italian – one glance’ll confirm that. Most seem to know a little English, and I do my best with the few words of Italian I know. However, the metro took me way out of my comfort zone. Lots of commuters, a feeling of swarming chaos, and trains that resembled sardine cans. But I didn’t miss my stop.
I’ve had my map reading skills sorely challenged this trip. I’m pretty good generally, but let’s just say the feeling of being somewhat lost hasn’t gone away yet. I’ve caught myself making circles several times now – a built in homing pigeon? What should have been a 5 minute walk took almost 45 minutes. But I found it.
Vatican City has walls, walls that are well over a millenium old. And those walls have many points of ingress and egress. Once inside, the beauty was nearly overwhelming. Massive. Elaborate. Inspiring. St. Peter’s Basilica must be experienced in order to be explained. No words written here would do it justice. Perhaps, were I not a Christian I could describe it in a technical sense. But the images are just too real, the history a part of who I am as a believer. Awestruck.
I exited the city to have a quick lunch, intending to go back and tour the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum. And then it struck. Weariness combined with all the issues associated with travel descended on me. I headed back to the hotel.
Several hours later, feeling better for the rest, I ventured out again – and into a church. Not that that’s hard in Rome. But this time, I was not here as a tourist; this was a pilgrim’s quest. With the words of David’s psalm coursing through my head, I reflected on the goodness of a shepherd who desires to give food, water, and rest to his weary sheep. I prayed for the people I love, near and far away. I prayed to be understanding of those who no longer love me. And mostly, I just listened to the quiet.