From Rome to Constantinople


Mosaics in the Hagia Sophia, section: Maria as...

Mosaics in the Hagia Sophia, section: Maria as patron saint of Istanbul, detail: Emperor Constantine I with a model of the city (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Weds, May 23

Thursday morning I will awaken at 3 o’clock in order to take a taxi at 4 o’clock in order to catch a plane to Zurich and then switch planes there so I can arrive in Istanbul.  And it is true, I am going to Istanbul but in a deeper sense, I am traveling to Constantinople, the seat of the New Rome, the seat of Eastern Orthodox Christianity which has influenced the world more than we in the West realize.  I am excited to see this great city, plundered by Venice, depended upon by Florence for the Renaissance, particularly with regard to classic Greek philosophy and interactive with Latin Christianity but alas, separated.

My time in Rome has been separated by eight years. I first came here when I was fifty.  The truth is, however, this ancient city is layered by history, architecture, theology and social and political life.  Digging into those layers takes time.  I gladly take this metaphor and apply it to my journey since I have been digging into the layers of my self. Of what am I comprised?  How does my present age change my perceptions of the world and my soul?  When I remove the layers, what lies at the core of me? These and many questions are packed with my clothes and books.  I take them to each city and tonight, I will take them one last time into the convent sanctuary of Quattro Coronati for Vespers and as I listen to the sisters in their black habits chant their prayers, as the dusk light of Rome filters into that ancient space and glints off ancient and faded frescoes, I’ll take my questions to God, giving thanks for a soul and a mind endowed with the power to ask, seek, knock …and find.

 

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