Jesus Sighed


And a young, worldly Manhattanite became a Catholic:

A few summers before, my sister and I had taken ourselves to Europe, and when in Florence, we visited the baptistry. We stood under the dome, under a bearded, dark-eyed Christ looking down on us from the ceiling, seated in judgment, surrounded by angels, saints, evangelists, and prophets. His face gave me a start. I recognized this face, although it had never been made visible to me by the churches I'd grown up in. This was the Jesus of the lover's sigh. Of the mother's sigh. The Jesus I had been praying to all my life, whose open hands offered infinite mercy. There he was suspended above us, arms outstretched, suffering everyone to come unto him, whether indifferent, curious, hostile, or humble. He had been sitting there for centuries, wanting really only a few things from us while people came and went below him. Come unto me, if you want to, everyone down there flipping through guidebooks, taking pictures, arguing about where to have lunch, tugging your children on to the next sight.

That day I saw that I could not be anything other than a Christian.