Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I knew what I was looking for.
I went there to see it.

in the middle of a MASSIVE CEILING,
I imagined the sound of ANGELS SINGING when I finally laid eyes on it.

Having finished our day-long tour of the Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica, my husband and I sat at a small table in the café.  Tired and thirsty, we guzzled a diet Coke and rested our feet.  We watched hundreds of other people spill into the café and gift shop at the end of their tour. 

Suddenly, it occurred to me. “Wait a second…,  where was…, where…,” I paused again, and made a gasping sound. I tried to calm myself while rapidly searching my brain.  Where was Michelangelo’s painting of The Creation of Adam?  Where was the Sistine Chapel?”   I blurted it out all at once, abandoning all sense of pride and embarrassment.  I never saw the, …you know, … God touching Adam’s finger,” I said in an intense, but desperate whine. I felt myself wanting to grab my husband by the neck. “Did you see that ceiling? The Sistine Chapel ceiling?  Did we see the Sistine Chapel?  Were we in it?  You know, … THE ONE we came to see?... the famous painting  that we CAME HERE FOR?  It’s here right?  Did YOU see it?  Oh no, … I NEVER SAW IT!”    

I felt a sense of dread set in.  We looked at each other with wide eyes, in complete disbelief.  It seemed that we were somehow telepathically comparing our realities.  In that split second, I knew.  He knew.  I had missed it.  I wouldn’t have believed it, but apparently, it is possible for 'someone' to be standing in the Sistine Chapel and be so completely distracted by the hundreds of other shoulder-to-shoulder tourists in the Sistine Chapel, that you are totally unaware of being in the Sistine Chapel.  I missed it.

I wanted to blame someone else.  I wanted a "Do Over."  I wanted to yell "Wait, I didn't GO yet!"  Where was the sign? Where was the blaring loud speaker announcement?  Pat, you are now entering the Sistine Chapel. This is where you will find the famous Michelangelo painting. The one you want to see.  This is your last chance, Pat.  You might never visit Italy again.  Look carefully.  It’s right above your head in the center of the ceiling.”

In spite of the fact that every square inch of the floors, ceiling and walls in the Sistine Chapel is covered with paintings, like the Illustrated Man himself, I missed it.  True, the Creation of Adam  portion of Michelangelo’s ceiling was not as massive or set apart as I thought it would be.  And, the fact that a Chapel usually is smaller in size should have been a clue. But, even though I thought I knew what I was looking for, I still missed it.  This was not happening to me. 

Needless to say, I was embarrassed.  I was the only one responsible for not seeing it; for getting lost and distracted in the crowd, and not looking to the guide or even up, for that matter.  I hadn’t really done my homework.  I just thought I would recognize it when I saw it. 

Thankfully, God’s promise is true in Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.”  Although, I notice it doesn’t say how many times you should ask, or how many times you might have to look, or how hard you need to knock.  Just keep asking, keep searching, and keep knocking. 

We looked at our watches.  It was almost time for the museum to close. Discreetly, we got up from our table, threw our trash away, gave each other that look, then turned and walked as fast as we could back toward the entrance to the Basilica.   We headed toward the Sistine Chapel.  Retracing our path, we had a long way to go.  At first we walked quickly, not wanting to appear irreverent toward the art we were passing.  Then we began to jog, ... in church.  We quickly passed all the beauty we had just seen that day.  We appeared irreverent anyway.  

And then, right there in the middle of the Sistine Chapel, we stopped and looked up.  There it was…Michelangelo’s beautiful masterpiece.  Astounding.  thought of him, lying on his back on the scaffolding while painting this magnificent masterpiece.  I wondered how he slept at night (probably on his stomach, I chuckled silently to myself).  I thought of how his passion must have consumed him.  How did he keep his focus, his perspective? I stood there in awe.  I blocked out the crowd, which was noticeably smaller the second time through.  I ignored the noise and other distractions, especially the Italian guard who kept yelling "no photos." I found what I was looking for right away. Irreverently again, I quickly took this picture. It was right there the whole time ... right in front of my eyes, just like God. 

As I continue to celebrate Easter, I want to remember that the miracle of the resurrection is the masterpiece of God  to be found by everyone and enjoyed continuously.  I want to be astounded and amazed that Jesus is alive now.  He is The Living Masterpiece. The Master of Peace.  Consider celebrating Easter a while longer this year.  Be amazed and stand in awe.  Look up.  Look all around you.  Forget the distractions of life for a while; at least long enough to ask, seek, and knock... often.  You can’t miss Him. You will find Him. He’s right in front of your eyes.

Patricia Spreng

Jeremiah 29:13-14
‘And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.  And I will be found by you’, declares the LORD.


  1. Leave it to the retired Catholic to disobey the 'no photo" rule! :-) I am so jealous you took one and have it to keep! Of course, I obeyed the rules! But this also helped me pay attention to the guide to look up! Thanks for reminding me to take time to notice God around me... I wish I could've seen your pictures from Italy!

  2. This is awesome! You have a gift of story-telling---truly. I'm not often keen of reading a long post after a day of teaching "words," but you pulled me in and kept me interested. I so hoped you'd somehow get a second chance and was thrilled when I reached that part of the story!

    You tie the visit and viewing of the painting in beautifully with God's and our relationship with Him. Quite astute.

    Loved this.

  3. Remarkable story and reminder ... how often He must pass among us unnoticed. Thank you for this.

  4. Thank you for your wonderful feed back. I so appreciate it!


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