Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Waiting for God

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Waiting for God

Article excerpt

Lessons from a magical mystery tour.

TO CELEBRATE OUR FORTHCOMING 25TH WEDDING anniversary, my wife and I gathered up our two daughters from college and the four of us spent a couple of glorious weeks in Italy. We started in Venice, drifted down to Florence, and, finally, savored five amazing days in Rome.

As always, such gadding about is full of lessons, and as we meandered into quaint churches, through cobblestone piazzas, and along scenic canals, a corresponding inner journey took place.

Perhaps the first lesson of all travel--the one that breaks the interior logjam--is that other people don't live the way we do. Comedian Steve Martin, after his first trip to France, announced incredulously, "Man, they have a different word for everything!" The sweet taste of such awareness opens one's mind to possibilities: "Hey, we can live life any way we want!" Which is why parents are full of both hope and fear when their kids head off to study abroad.

I had studied in Rome 30 years ago, and returning as a 50-year-old was a little like picking up my favorite book from when I was a teen and reading it again as an adult.

In Florence we went to the Accademia to see Michelangelo's David. I remember my first reaction to that amazing sculpture 30 years ago. I was angry at Michelangelo and at David's perfect physique. Being a young man of 20 and unsure of myself with "young women of the opposite sex," I anguished that he had set the bar too high for the rest of us young men. And yet I had stood there awestruck with more admiration than envy.

This time around, I admired the David for its vision of a man in balance within himself. I've long since abandoned hope of emulating that physique, but now the ideal he embodies that I seek is his poise: his inner balance of head, heart, and guts. It seems to me that in our society, way too often, these three elements in men operate completely separately, with no one at the central controls.

David comes across as a man who knows his own power and where that power comes from--the heart of Yahweh.

His interior repose is in stark contrast to Michelangelo's statues of six prisoners that flank the long walk up to the David. …

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