The Salute at Dawn | Mark Lindsay

I rose early, as always, for my dawn walk in Venice. This was my time alone with the city, a time when I could inhale deeply the salty air, and search out the meager bits of golden light that might be found shimmering here-and-there, from time-to-time. Finding Venetian sun in late December would not be easy. The light was low and the alleys tall. I wound my way out into the open piazza at the front of the Santa Maria della Salute. The massive edifice cast its shadow upon me with the pull of its gravity. I looked up to the screaming angels—a baroque cacophony of heavy Catholicism. I wondered to myself how long it had been since my last confession.

Shaking off the echos of contrition, I found fascination with the stairs that led to the basilica's entrance. The cold stone rose steeply before me. "It's a long way up there to salvation," I muttered to myself, self-satisfied with my smugness. The brisk air of the Adriatic blew small scraps of litter past me, reminders of the careless sinners (most likely sinning tourists) from the day before. I figured that they hadn't been to confession for awhile either. My shoulders now more hunched than before, I photographed the stairs from various angles. My old knees wanted not to kneel. I got down as low as not kneeling would allow—and found a more dramatic perspective of the stairs from there.

Enough! I had enough of the cold and enough memory of confessionals—and the murky shadows of the priests inside them. I searched out the sun and found my way to the Punta della Dogana. At the back of the new, art museum in the old, customs house, I found my sun. It was a meager shaft but it warmed my bones, old knees included. I still didn't want to kneel but found anew a quickness in my step as I continued my alone walk back to the apartment. On the way I realized that our trip was now more than halfway over. My heart skipped a beat.

Venice was doing it again. It was running away from me—screaming angels and all. I was just getting to know it, just barely beginning to grasp at it. And it was escaping yet again. Soon, we'd be on that sad water-taxi ride to the train station and…NO! I refused to conjure up the image of all that, not yet, not now. I shook it off. I shook it off just like that.

The small canal of our palazzetto was now before me. This canal was starting to feel like home. This morning walk was becoming my walk in my neighborhood. The front door's lock was now familiar to me as I gave the key a little twist. I still had a week left in Venice though that hardly seemed enough. Time passes so quickly. Down the dark and stone hallway I went. It was one flight of stairs to the apartment's door. On the way up, I wondered…how long had it been since I last went to confession?