The majesty inside San Marco’s Basilica…..the ever changing patterns of mosaic magic beneath my feet as I walked along.  Looking about in the dim light I saw so many sublime expressions of faith.  I drifted in wonder past the profusion of artistic treasures arrayed from floor to ceiling……splendors wrought over the ages…….testaments to man’s yearning for redemption.  Every view greeted the eye with transcendent beauty and I felt  humbled with reverence.

As I approached the pulpit, I strained to hear the vanished prayers for salvation so earnest in times of need…….prayers that had been murmured beneath this towering dome for centuries.

Then……finally emerging onto the sunlit marble portico, I joined the line of people that led back to the outside world.   We moved along between weaving lanes of red velvet ropes, becoming again the people who had so recently entered this sacred place.


No one seemed to see her

As if she were a rock

Some inanimate incongruity unworthy of notice.

She lay face down on the ground beside the velvet ropes

Covered in a shabby black hooded dress.

Only an old and honest looking hand with palm thrust upward

Extended from her prostrated body.

She did not move nor show her face.

She did not look at them nor did they look at her.

And the line moved past her pitiful form without reaction,

 Filing toward the brightening sunlight and the gaiety that lay beyond.


Surely, I thought, this must be a sacrilege at the threshold of the holy.

As I approached her, I stooped down and placed a coin in her hand.  I halted a step….. hesitated a bit…..but then I too joined the swirling masses spilling into Saint Mark’s Square, pigeons flying everywhere, landing on and around the cavorting crowd.


I felt the brilliant glory of Venice infuse me in the warmth of the sun

 Life was leading me on toward its next rendezvous……

And with the breeze of the moment passing,

I was gone.


Yet I still don’t know why she was not raised up in her hour of need at the Temple gate.

Was it I who was called to lift her into my empty arms…..only to walk away at the instant of my testing?



Woman with a cup near the Forum of Rome

Is she an imposter?


Will it be you who begs for entry

Lying humble at the foot of the Throne,

Will your fervent prayers be answered,

Will your cup be filled with alms,

There at the gates of your redemption,

Will you reap what you have sown?