That Impossible thing you do relying on your 'nth sense alone.
I’ve been fascinated long enough with Michelangelo’s 15 ft marble masterpiece David, to take a good read on material I could get, and look what I found: along with some Questions, some Answers & an impossibly naked prayer….“**
Michelangelo sculpts his David as before his battle with Goliath: quiet tense, with ‘pebble’ hidden in right palm, his slingshot seemingly at rest on his shoulder. He is left handed? He catches his giant by surprise.
At 26 years old in 1501, Michelangelo accepted the challenge to sculpt a large scale David, from an unfinished project flawed with ‘taroli‘ or imperfections: it was in the Vestry’s courtyard for 25 years. No one expected such a revolutionary translation of a biblical hero.
What was this young Italian Sculptor thinking those 4 years working a discarded humongous white rock of ‘flawed’ marble? Why the heart shaped pupils and ‘one eye looking at a closer object, the other at a more distant one…?’ What does this Teenage Shepherd boy symbolize, not just as the most famous naked statute in the world….?
Traditionally, David had been portrayed post- victory over the slain Goliath. But Michelangelo chooses a David poised, before all of the action – leaning his focus on the power of a God who had already delivered him from a lion and a bear, bare handed.
It would take 4 days x 40 men to move the statue the half mile from Michelangelo’s workshop by Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral to the Piazza della Signoria. Luca Landucci, diarist, recounts:
“…midnight, May 14th, and the ‘Giant’ was taken out of the workshop. They even had to tear down the archway… 40 men were pushing the large wooden cart where ‘David’ stood protected by ropes, sliding it through the town on trunks. The Giant eventually got to Signoria Square on June 8th 1504…”
Michelangelo worked at the statue in secrecy … he worked in the open courtyard, in the rain: this inspired him? It’s been said he submerged a wax model of his design in water. As the water level dropped he’d chisel what emerged. He slept in at work, ate when he could….
his craftsmanship is ‘flesh- soft’, frozen palpable restful caution, reflected in a classic pose (contrapposto); one leg bearing full weight, while the other leans forward allowing hip and shoulder to recline at opposing angles, lending the entire torso it’s now legendary S- curve : the stance of a confident, focused watchful warrior.
**Why the heart shaped pupil under furrowed brows? You’d furrow, burrow, …….owwww anything if you were faced with a bloodthirsty monster’s 7ft sword going at your jugular… I can’t say. I wasn’t there,
though I’ve seen a few monster cyclones, a semi tidal wave, a few insane river crossings, one deadly mountain route; sat in at a Mumbai eatery while a 10,000 strong mob rioted past looking for petrol and match; I even been in the 200 km No man’s Land between India and Karachi: with quiet (back then) Border Security and long sweet smelling grass:
you were not just staring at danger, you were gazing at Something else you couldn’t define. Your brain had registered earlier Goodness. You remembered how the ocean looked before the storm, you perhaps even thought this too- would pass. You chose not to think the cyclone would sweep your roof away. You looked on life with ‘heart-shaped pupils’ waiting for the morning sun, waiting in a way that knew storms and rough places were not eternal situations. In that moment you chose not to rely on mere senses; if you prayed, you didn’t have time to format words. There were no words. You forgot formality, you were stripped of human comfort, you didn’t care. But you remembered somethings no one could have told you to remember, none but another Power could whisper that secret, in ways beyond aural, they were metaphysical? Maybe, maybe there’s more adjectives than we know.
D’you remember a time you thought you were alone in a place no one else could reach, but Something held you? That Fever you thought could never leave, that Accident that took your leg but gave you wings, you now remember all that and it pushes you up the rungs of a Thing like a stair case made of gold, gold because it’s like nothing else you’ve known…. resilient after a fire rinse, beautiful in the refining….
You’re looking at all that now with eyes of a love you never thought existed …
A love for divine intervention, interpretation…
a love for the impossible.
You cannot find words to pray, but your mental Sling is working:
there’s a giant, a Goliath in your face. You’re looking at It, but also at the Possibility of an impossible solution. You’ve got to take the very thing you been good at, those proverbial ‘5 pebbles from little stream at home’, your well worn sling>these kiddie weapons, but it’s all you got, stripped of other armour too much for you to fit into!
But all you got is enough.
You surprise yourself, and your giant.
You become the giant….. 15 feet tall, pure gleaming material now, from something you thought was flawed:
if anything is a Prayer/ an Asking – it’s this one:
when the human spirit asks its Creator, what they can collaborate on together: “..what d’You want me to do next?”
What is that one stance that is most opposed to human nature?
It’s what made a Michelangelo, and the original David. (Michelangelo surprised even Leonardo Da Vinci in that broad room meeting they had, deciding where to stall David). It is Job sitting in the market place in ashes and sackcloth saying,”Never mind the nasty things my besties say about me, bless them God, I know my Redeemer lives…for me.” It is Daniel flung in the lion’s den, unafraid, “..even if He slays me, I trust Him.” It is Esther and Ruth, Hannah and Sara. Or Gideon and Moses. It is you and me, every so often, walking through everyday miracles of existence and healing and we mightn’t even notice some times but we prayed these impossible prayers, naked of all garb/pretence/fear/doubt/lack of gut;
we might be there today, and we look around and find these little or large, old and new mammoth Illustrations of how humans can pray, or perhaps it’s possible we have done it, and haven’t realised it….
Not possible to gaze beyond our Goliath and look askance at ……..an Invisible God?
But this got me here, @ the kind of prayer Stance that defies visible support….*
“…. nor has there ever been seen a pose so easy, or any grace to equal that in this work, or feet, hands and head so well in accord, one member with another, in harmony, design, and excellence of artistry.” Giorgio Vasari on the most famous statue in Florence or perhaps in all the world.
“…ONLY GOD CREATES, THE REST OF US JUST COPY…” Michelangelo.
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