The city of Rome is a masculine environment. The might of the Basillicas of both Ancient Rome and Vatican Rome, the heroic figures in the sculptures of the Piazza Navonna and the Trevi Fountain. The strong backs of suited men drinking espressos at cafe counters in the early morning. Rome has a magnificent male energy which I’m sure is soaked up in litres by the beautiful sallow skinned male population of Italy.
So I went looking for the feminine.
And I couldn’t resist the beauty, the softness and the quietly subsumed presence of the feminine, always there under the surface. It’s in the beauty of the young women riding bicycles through the narrow streets; in the clusters of religious women on their way in and out of churches; in the many images of the Madonna reverentially adorned with lighted candles and spring flowers and in the amazonian women represented in the mosaics of the Colosseum.
Maybe the prominence of the masculine is all about looking back, while the influence of the feminine belongs to the world of the future? A world we are yet to fully imagine, where all that is now hidden is revealed. This is where women have often struggled; managing the balancing act between the artistry of our comfort zones of quiet knowledge, with the public world of engagement and power.
Just before we left Rome, on our last legs from another meandering hike through the streets, we sat admiring four women holding up a beautiful fountain. Unlike many of the androgenous angels, they were female for sure! And I couldn’t take my eyes off them; their resilience, their quiet endurance, their unassailable beauty.
Today as I look out at this Irish Spring, I know why we rest so easily in the reflections of water splashing in the puddles of April showers; why we will sit and meditate for hours on a drift of daffodils; why we are not always ready to take on the patriarchy at full tilt; how we are going about it all in a more knowing and quiet way.
And as the girl threw her coin in the Trevi Fountain and made a wish, I wondered if she knew all that too?