St Peter’s Basilica, in Rome, is pretty unimpressive.
From the outside, there’s just an open paved courtyard or plaza or piazza, and the dome of the church peeks up from behind an array of statues that seems all too par-for-the-course when it comes to ancient architecture.
It’s big, but it’s hardly something to be overwhelmed by as you meander through St Peter’s Square.
Until you get inside.
Once you cross the threshold of the gigantic doors, you enter a space that borders on visual overload as your eyes are uncertain where to focus because there is simply too much to take in. The marble floors and massive altar, statues of giants of the faith–their stature proportional to their impact on millions of lives. Michelangelo’s sculpture of the Pieta, and a dome so massive that I am shrunk to near insignificance.
Now that I am in the midst of it, I can see all the wonder and the beauty; my soul can be impressed with the weight of its art.
I think it is fairly common for us to try and sell the objective perspective. We want to view a situation from a distance, to remove ourselves from the circumstances, so that we can “rightly” evaluate what’s there. By creating some separation, we hope to get a “real” view of what’s going on so that we can make a sound judgment.
I’m looking ahead into the next steps of life. Part of that season seems likely to include finally hunkering down and writing the book that I’ve been considering for over a year and a half. Despite whatever passion or talent I may have, I anticipate trials, difficulties, challenges to be disciplined, choices to be made.
Will I rise to the opportunity? Will I press on in excellence, faithfully fulfilling the task set before me? Will I say anything of significance, conjuring words that will contribute to the growth of others? What will this process do to me? Already I can foresee the temptations to laziness, to delay until I’ve read one more resource book, to wait until I have fully crystallized my thoughts and message before I compose the first paragraph.
From here, from outside this season, I really cannot say how I will do. I really cannot evaluate what I will become. I need to be in the midst of it.
The idea of these next steps is attractive enough from this piazza of contemplation. But I cannot make a final judgment from here. I must cross the threshold, stand in the midst, become swallowed by the dome, surrounded by the figures and inspiration from my own generation and from those that have gone before. I must get lost among the halls. I must stand still and simply look up.
Only then will I know what I am, only then will I be becoming that which I could only speculate on from the Square. This is no time for objective evaluation. It’s time to enter in.
From this side, I cannot see
In the midst is where I need to be
Judgments passed externally
Just a facade of what is me
In the midst it’s time to go
Truly caught up in the very throes
Of trial, art, and inspiration
All may be missed through hesitation
What will I be, I cannot say
Risk and challenge lead the way
But to stay out here in the Square
Is to never know Who’s in there