A few weeks ago I had the chance to visit Rome. Believe it or not it was a work trip! (the Fusion Albania leadership team had invited me to come and lead a training retreat for them, and I didn’t turn them down!!). This was my first visit to Rome. I love visiting places for the first time. I enjoy discovery,
the discovery of new people, places and experiences. Although to my shame I didn’t buy a guidebook or phrasebook until I got to the airport in Rome itself!.
I had to meet the team at the apartment where we were staying, so I chose to get a train into the centre of the city and walk from there. It was a 30 minute walk and it took my breath away! Not just because I was tired and unfit, but that every 50 yards I walked there was yet another sculpture, building or colonnade. The apartment was about 10 yards from Fontana di Trevi, so imagine walking into that little square at about 7pm with the noise of the water and the towering sculptures and excited crowd. When I first arrived at the fountain, I hadn’t met up with the team yet and I recall having an internal dialogue that went something like this. ‘Just stay here a while, find a place to sit and enjoy the fountain! No, you’ve not found the team yet and it’s getting late and you don’t know where you are!’ it was hard!! In the end it was just a matter of minutes before I found them and we went out for pizza and drinks to start our week off.
It did get me thinking though, my time in Rome. I have to say, for the record I really dislike site seeing and architecture bores me silly; so my appreciation for this city took me clean by surprise! But yes it got me thinking. Creativity is such a major part of God’s nature and of ours made in his image. It has a way of moving us deeply especially when it communicates whatever it is we call beauty, I found my spirit rising and enjoying God in it all – despite the fact that many pieces were depictions of Roman and Greek mythology! There was something in the creativity and beauty itself that brought me to turn to God and smile with delight.
The second thing that occurred to me concerned the pieces that depicted the Judeo-Christian story. Pieces like Michael Angelo’s Pieta (done when he was 24!) and his Cysteine Chapel, these pieces that have endured for centuries and still inspire and move us today. Each one in some way an outworking of what was in the artist’s heart and mind. It made me think of the incredible responsibility and how art has the power to shape the culture and theology of a civilization. We see it most clearly in music, but its there in all forms of art. It made me ask, who through their creativity in art, is shaping the culture and theology of our society today; how are they shaping it; and are we OK with that?