In 2008, I had the great good fortune to take a trip to Italy. I'd always wanted to see Rome and the Italian countryside so my wife and I signed up with a tour but arrived a few days before it was set to begin. With the
time to explore we took time to get acclimated in the city and got to know our surroundings. But the centerpiece of Rome, Vatican City, was on both our wish lists.
Neither my wife or I were Catholic, or honestly had any experience with organized religion. We both believe in God and have faith in a higher power but spiritual training was not in our backgrounds.
Still, the Vatican is place of world wide historical value, the repository of incredible art, and a place of spiritual renewal for millions so it was a foregone conclusion we would visit.
The entrance to the grounds of the Vatican, if you are not familiar, is not an entrance at all. In fact essentially nothing (with the exception of medieval age walls on some sides) separates the city of Rome
from Vatican City. Tourist merchandise on carts and cafes and other shops are packed in the area around the Vatican but there's not much of this inside the city itself.
We approached in a cab on a warm spring day hopped out and walked toward the Vatican noting that thousands of people were already there. Then something very unexpected happened.
As we both took a single step on to the grounds of the Vatican, we burst into uncontrollable tears. At that moment I could feel billions of prayers and the words of multitudes coursing through me like a river of faith.
It was an experience of utter connectedness and recognition and it lasted for several minutes.
When I had collected myself and my wife had dried her own tears we both realized it had been an incredible moment but then, we just became tourists again, chalking it up...I suppose to the idea that I
had imagined it or that we had just realized a goal to visit this amazing place.
We only had so much time that day and saw only part of the stunning architecture, art, and history that is there. We knew we had to come back.
Two days later we had that chance and once again, took a cab from our hotel. This time, as we approached I realized I might not have a chance like this again. So, I asked God a question. Sitting in the back of
an Italian taxi I asked, "God, what should I do with the rest of my life?"
Nothing. No booming voice. No gathering clouds. No lightning strike.
Instead, a quiet, gentle loving voice said to me only one word.
It wasn't my own voice. It wasn't my imagination. This happened.
The voice said, "Create"
I think I was being told to use whatever talents I have to create whatever I can, as often as I can, for as many people as I can.
I was being told that my mission here on earth is to be a creative force. Creating beauty, creating things that help others, creating photographs, ideas, writing, anything I could conceive.
So now, that's what I try to do every day. Create something good. It's why you see so many photographs from me. It's why I work on ideas for people not expecting payment. It's why I'm here.