Have you ever seen something so beautiful that it brought tears to your eyes?
Something unexpected happened while touring a museum. I entered a room with a great sculpture, and instantly upon viewing it, my throat choked with a cry and my eyes welled up with tears. The beauty was overwhelming, figures coming to life then in a fated turn of events, one figure transforms into a tree.
It was Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne, finished in 1625 and housed in the Borghese Gallery. I had seen it in books and didn’t think much of it prior to viewing it in real life. Just another statue by another Italian master. Statues are everywhere in Italy, street and museum alike, so their commonness impedes on their potential to impress. Still now when I view photos of it, I don’t see what moved me, but I can still feel its reverberation in my heart.
The Borghese Gallery is both a museum and a garden surrounded my public parks. The grounds were as interesting as the gallery. Walls crumbled. Fruit fell off the trees, rotting on the ground. Birds flew and squawked and little kids practiced riding their bicycles. Statues seemed to both be aging and solidly and permanently frozen in time. Things were quieter there, with a distinct Roman feel of timelessness, like I could be in a different century and be having the same experience. I like that feeling.
Maybe that feeling is why Rome is called the Eternal City? That and all the ruins upon ruins.
This was a trip where I felt an inner emotional pull towards the unexpected. It may of been the romance of it, the classical, timeless nature and the projection of my senses, but I still felt it.
The first time was in the Vatican museum. There was a large birdbath-looking thing. Maybe it was an alter? Used in a church or temple? I am not sure what it was exactly, but I was drawn to it like a moth to the porch light on a July night. I felt totally electrified. Some internal homing device attracted my attention. This object was both animated and animating something in me. As I approached it, the sensation intensified and I couldn’t help but linger in its presence as long as I could. I still don’t know the history of it, but it was a curious experience nonetheless.
I am generally not one of those people who can ” feel the energy” of a room or place or even day. I don’t get creeped out easily. Unlike other people I know, I could probably spend the night in a disturbing place like a former concentration camp and sleep like a baby. So when I do feel something unordinary, it makes me wonder all the more what sort of workings are going on underneath the surface.