The more I know, the more I know that I don’t know! I have just returned from a trip to Italy with three other ladies. It was a wonderful, two-week trip, with lots of laughter (ok, and a bit of wine and pasta), and lots of walking and sight-seeing. While everything was beautiful and fascinating, I was moved to tears as I entered the Sistine Chapel. As I glanced around the room at my travel companions, I saw that they, too, were moved to tears. I’m not sure why – the beauty, of course. The craftsmanship, the artistry – yes. But, I think that it was the sincerity of the depiction of the life of Christ that touched me. I didn’t think it could get any better than that.
Then, there was David.
We traveled on from Rome to Florence, where we had contracted with a guide to show us the highlights of that beautiful city. We saw painting after painting, statue after statue, mosaic after mosaic, and all were astounding. But, as we entered the Galleria del’ Academia and the guide tried to explain the sculptures leading up to the David, I was unable to take my eyes off the massive marble sculpture in the distance. Oh my word! It was more magnificent that I could have imagined.
As we made our way past the Four Prisoners and St. Matthew, the guide told us the tale of Michelangelo’s work on the David. I had probably heard the story at some time in my (pitifully lacking) study of art history, but of course, there in his presence, Michelangelo’s story came alive for me. The marble itself was flawed and two sculptors before Michelangelo had attempted to carve the statue of David, under the commission of the Woolen Cloth Guild.
Both sculptors began shaping the statue, then abandoned the project. The costly piece of marble lay, abandoned, in the yard of the cathedral workshop for 25 years. On the early morning of September 13, 1501, Michelangelo began carving what would be his magnum opus – from worn, abused, abandoned marble.
As I stood, gazing upward at the magnificent David, listening to that story of the most brilliant masterpiece being carved from a broken and abandoned and rejected piece of stone, I thought of how our lives are restored by a loving and masterful God. For each of us, He has takes our flaws, our imperfections, our damaged attempts to make our lives whole, and chisels us into splendor in His eyes.
I thought of the many attempts in my own life, to create a masterpiece of myself, only to fail time and time again. Only through the stroke of the Master can that magnificence be attained. He takes us as we are, in the courtyard of our imperfection, stands us upright and chisels away our inadequacies.