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A Work of Art Trapped in Stone

Many of us have been to Florence to see Michelangelo’s David in person. It is one of the most popular works of art in the world. I love to visit the Accademia Gallery where David stands because, despite the fact that we all have seen thousands of copies throughout the years, nothing prepares you for the exquisite beauty of the real thing. After a dozen visits, though, I now find myself drawn to other art in the Accademia. In particular, I am intrigued by several unfinished sculptures by Michelangelo that stand in the great hall leading up to David.

Michelangelo called these unfinished works The Prisoners. With a head or a hand or a partial body emerging from a block of marble, they, indeed, look like beings held captive in the stone. Sculptors often describe their job as setting free the work of art that is held captive. The artist skillfully and patiently chips away that which hides the beauty they see within. I believe this describes perfectly what the Artist of the universe desires to do with each of us.

Standing and staring at those who are still captive in the stone can make your heart ache as you realize that these sculptures are much more accurate reflections of the state of our souls than the exquisite, graceful, unself-conscious beauty of David, only a few steps away. There he stands for all the world to see, just as he was created to be … while we struggle, encased in stone, trying to realize and express our God-given identity and purpose.

We are a diverse lot, but there is one thing that is absolutely true about us all:

Every day, you are either moving toward the purpose for which you were created or you are moving away it.

When you leave this day, in which direction will you be headed?

Although I’m not at all a fan, in his book The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren reminds us that the average human life is lived for 25,550 days. If you are 37 or older you have used up half or more of your allotment. Wouldn’t it be tragic to get to the end of your days and discover that you have used them all wrong?

I DON’T believe God has a “plan” for your life, but I do believe God has a purpose/mission for you. Perhaps this is a good day to consider what it is and resolve to spend what is left of your days pursuing it with joyful passion!


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Rev. Michael Piazza

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