Under the Watchful Eye

I was a Catholic school boy, trained to feel guilty for nearly everything I did while growing up. At some point I began to wander away from the church, my drifting turned to speeding and soon Confession and Guilt were items I had left in my wake with the discovery of life and all its many wonders. One memory that still resides in my head are the eyes of the Christ figure. No matter where I sat in class, no matter what I did, those eyes were upon me. Christ on the cross is found most everywhere in Italy, trail sides, the random homes yard, in town, and even on summits. I still look at them, still wonder if I am doing right, but now with a lifetime of experiences, I smile and consider giving him a wink.

And so today as I rode my bike by a little scene outside a small chapel, not only were the eyes of Christ peering onto the vision before us.

My ride started just before noon, Saturday. As I so often do, I wander from town on a lazy road that winds it’s way through some farmland. Where the road crests there is a tiny chapel sitting entirely alone and receiving sun all day. Outside is a bench optimally facing south, it is a perfect place to sit, soak up warmth, and think of nothing. Today an older couple was just making themselves comfortable as I pedaled by.

A loaf of bread, some cheese, a tomato, an apple, and the obligatory, and influential, bottle of wine. Our eyes met, smiles were exchanged, and a pop of the cork sent me off down the small descent. This is a scene run across countless times each day in Italy.

Two hours later, returning to town, I was making my way back up the hill when I noticed that the couple was still in place, but in a decidedly different condition. He was laying on the bench, with his wife’s lap serving as a pillow, she was sprawled out, topless, and enjoying the rotational massage her husband was offering. The wine bottle, having served its purpose, was cast aside and ready for the recycle bin.

As I approached, I felt little shame in having a look. That is until I peered above them and regretfully made eye contact with Christ, hanging there outside the chapel. I held his eyes for a brief moment before his own gaze was redirected, comically, back down to the spectacle beneath him. The things he must see.

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