I come across these great states
From Norfolk Bible School;
I guess I been brained along the way
A couple times ... a few.
Out on the road it come to me
That everyone must know
Except for scary dogs and Russians
That Jesus loves ya so.
"God is Here Tonight" by The Beat Farmers
I have a weird relationship with my religion. I freely admit to being a Roman Catholic. I am just not a particularly holy one. I lose concentration praying the Rosary. I have never done a novena. Others love going to Adoration and I have to fight sleep (hey, come on, it's usually quiet and dark in the chapel).
So, I often have to wonder, why it is God likes to put me in certain situations.
Like a short time ago, when I, who has an abject fear of heights, agreed to climb some ten stories via scaffolding, to photograph the artists working on the frescoes that will be featured in the dome of the soon-to-be complete Sacred Heart Cathedral, high above the floor.
Very high above the floor.
Now, I know God has a sense of humor. Need proof? Consider the platypus. And me. That is why I sometimes feel like the hapless man of God in The Beat Farmers' song, being asked by God to put aside my fears and do what He says. Even if it may mean I get brained along thew way, a couple of times, a few.
The climb up was . . . okay, a few times I thought about slinking down and telling the editor of East Tennessee Catholic, sorry, boss, just couldn't do it. So, I kept myself from looking down, and instead kept looking up. Because at a certain point, I would reach the platform where the artists were working, and I was expecting that it would be like being on the floor of any old story in a building.
What I didn't expect was a family reunion.
I came up - and saw saints. Now, you have to understand, when you are raised as a Catholic, the saints are not just simply models of holy behavior for us to try to emulate, but they are family. We are taught they are our brothers and sisters, whom we can talk to and ask for help.
And that calmed me down, man. All the way. There was St. Maximilian Kolbe, the saint of Auschwitz. And one of my favorite authors, Blessed Pope Paul VI, holding his best seller, Humane Vitae (never to be a major motion picture, but who cares?).
And who does not know St. Francis of Assisi - I mean, how many gardens boast a simple, little friar in his robes, usually functioning as a bird feeder? St. Francis of Assisi is beloved as the patron saint of nature and animals, and his fresco features two special creatures at his feet, a small black dog and a small blonde dog. I know those dogs.
I had the chance to talk to the artists. Quite fascinating, to learn how the frescoes are designed and the challenge that comes in painting them. They are on the inside of a dome and so there has to be some distortion so that when viewed far from the floor of the cathedral, they will be in proportion.
It is hard work. It is hot up there. There is not a lot of room in which to move around. It means arching your back the closer you get to the top, and the roof curves over you.
I think it is something, to be able to paint something that is larger than life, up close, in tight quarters.
I did get to do something special, however - i was able to go up, and touch and kiss the face of Jesus.
And I let Him know, if He doesn't mind . . . can He find me work on the ground floor next time, please?