Any time I’m in Rome I always visit the national church of the French there, San Luigi dei Francesi. It’s between Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. There are a few paintings there by Caravaggio. One of them is The Calling of Matthew. Out of his Gospel 9:9, Caravaggio recreates the scene. In a musty dark room of tax collectors a barefooted Christ brings a beam of light into a dark space. It’s not clear who Matthew is, is it the man who looks up or the man with his head still down counting money that is being called .This style of painting revolutionised art, light and darkness, realism and ambiguity.
The reason I’m thinking of this is I came across a few lines I wrote sometime in the presence of the painting. As I get older I realise the enthusiasm the young Christ can inspire is harder to keep alive in an ageing body. I must have written these lines over 20 years ago.
Was it a Call?
In search more than in certainty
In hope more than foot firm
A young Christ calling his likeness in me.
Easily followed in words
Yet never sensing the journey ahead.
Then, the times of knowing that the
Trip was from head to the heart
Through tears, smiles and wonder
To consciously follow
the only opening left
And to find a trust
To sweep me on
In Jesus’s name.