This last week was our spring break from work. I know what you are thinking. “Miranda, most beautiful one, you are in Italy. Your whole existence is a vacation.”
Here is what I say “You, my most attractive people, are wrong. I work six days a week with obnoxious Italian middle schoolers (did I mention that most Italian’s have school on Saturday?) and generally spend about an additional 12-20 hours a week driving from city to city. I needed a few days off.”
Erin and I decided to use our break to visit Florence (Firenze). We spent one night there a few weeks ago (A St. Patrick’s Day Night that I will try and forget) and knew that we wanted more of Italy’s art capitol. We made a good choice.
(Not my photo BTW, since I am obedient museum tourist.)
I’m not much of one for tourist traps. I usually feel let down when I see something in person that I’ve seen on a million postcards or on TV. I tend to be especially let down by things that have taken on a shear celebrity value. I.e., the Mona Lisa: ugly and small. Old Faithful: not faithful. The Statue of Liberty…well, that was pretty cool, but shorter than pictured in Ghostbusters.
Not so with Michelangelo’s David. I’ve seen many photos, aprons, and magnets of it, but to see it in person was mind blowing. It is beautiful. It is beyond beautiful. It is human. Not in a Pygmalion way. In a way in that it is clearly made by and for humans.
As I looked at the lines and curves of the muscles I could see poor dusty Michelangelo in my mind’s eye. I saw him learning every millimeter of the stone. He knew it. He experienced every human emotion during its creation. I could feel his exhaustion, his humor, and his triumph. In the 400 years that it had been standing in Florence millions of people have seen it and felt their own humanity in its presence.
I love the moment it portrays: the moment before the crisis. It was and is unconventional for Michelangelo to portray David in this way. Traditionally he is posed as the conquering hero, sword in hand, one foot on the giant’s gory head. Gross and unrelatable to the average me. I have many more moments in life where I am scared witless not knowing how I am going to face/do the thing I know I need to face/do, but hoping above all hope that I can face/do it.
Michelangelo’s David standing stark-nakers, absolutely unguarded and powerless before his enemy. Not just his enemy, but an enemy to God and His people. BUT he, the exposed shepherd boy, is confidant in the knowledge that ‘if God be for us, who can be against us?’ He carries over his shoulder his long leather sling, and in his right hand, hidden among the fingers, a small stone. His humble weapons are almost invisible behind his bold faith in the God who will defend him.
In so many ways, this statue captures what I want to be. Humble, yet confidant. Completely vulnerable, but strong. That is the required combination for a child of God living in a human world. Those are the necessary characteristics to love completely, live unflinchingly, and to have faith unwavering.
I know this is all a bit artsy-fartsy. But it is true. And beyond that, Erin and I had a really good time.