23 April, 2012

In the Hallway, Unfinished

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.

We go through the metal detectors and ticket checks.  I tell Carrie I'll go through the painting galleries and eventually find the David, and meet up with her later.  But I turn the first corner and there he is.  He stands firmly at the end of a long hallway lined with unfinished sculptures also by Michelangelo, half-formed bodies writhing, struggling, trying to break free from the solid marble and attain life.  My friend Kristin later tells that they remind her of each one of us bearing the weight of our sin on our backs, longing to break free into perfection.  Incomplete statues usher us into the rotunda where David stands, looking so alive.

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.

On Sunday we attend an English-language Easter service, and the priest reads to us of the stone the builders rejected, now the cornerstone.  I remember the David, and the statues preceding him waiting to be free.  Right now I am likewise burdened, half-formed, reaching for the realization of who I am meant to be.  I'm waiting in the hallway.  But I am not rejected; with every year my Maker chips away more of what ought not to be, inching me closer to freedom and perfection.

3 comments:

Sarah said...

Beautiful, Ginny!

cdvic2 said...

I love this post. Might be one of my favorites so far.

cdvic2 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.