It is Good Friday and we are waiting in a long line of people who have come from every corner of the earth to see one thing out of the many things housed in Florence's Accademia: Michelangelo's "David." I turn up my nose at tourists I overhear admitting that they're just there to check it off the bucket list - but I must be honest with myself and admit that I'm not really sure why else I'm there, either. Sculpture has never intrigued me as much as other media, but I know I should see the David after traveling all the way here. I am unkind and hypocritical in my heart as I wait in line. My thoughts are rarely turned toward Calvary.
Sudden awe disarms me, and I can't explain my all-consuming need to sit down and study the statue for a long time. It demands so much more than the 30 seconds (maximum) that we usually spend in front of a single work of art. Cameras aren't allowed, so I set out to sketch it. I work so slowly. Groups of tourists come in and out, blocking my view, looking over my shoulder. I'm not able to finish before it's time to go, but the time I spend is valuable; in trying to replicate the lines and shapes in front of me I am discovering, respecting the skill this statue attests. It's hard - impossible - for me to replicate it well in two dimensions on paper, so how difficult must it have been to carve from solid marble?
While I sketch I glean information from passing tour guides. David was created from a block of rejected marble; Leonardo da Vinci had refused the commission to sculpt it. A rejected stone... When Michelangelo completed his statue, all who saw it proclaimed it a miracle. Perfect, powerful, ready to spring to life at any moment. A rejected stone, now a fully-formed, beautiful thing perfect in its maker's eyes.