As long as I can remember, I’ve loved art, and Michelangelo was my first favorite. I remember looking through the pages of my family Bible, studying the images from the Sistine Chapel and admiring his sculptures. My favorite was and still is his sculpture of the Pieta. The intricacy of Mary’s folded robes and Christ’s curly hair always captured my interest, and I would ponder Michelangelo's gift and abilities.
I wanted to be an artist, but I was not so endowed. When I realized in college that you could major in art history, I knew I’d discovered my path. I may not be able to create these works of art, but I could acquire a level of knowledge and expertise and appreciation far beyond my abilities to create. And I did.
Because I love art so much, I’ve always struggled with purchasing art of any kind to hang in my home. Mere reproductions or mass-produced posters always rang a little hollow for me. I always watch for something unusual, unique. I saw the quote above in a boutique five years ago. The moment I saw it, I knew I needed it, and its price tag only deterred me for a moment. It has hung in our family room ever since.
God gives mothers the privilege of becoming artists--sculptors co-creating with Him bodies for these spirits. Our bodies instinctively mold their physical bodies until birth. Then, it becomes our job to help mold their souls.
We teach them to eat, to sleep through the night, to hold toys and to smile. These skills lead to sitting, crawling, walking, speaking. We struggle through potty training and sharing. We teach them to pray and to love. This step of the sculpting process removes chunks of marble--big strokes that require mostly maternal energy and time. Now the shape inside the block begins to emerge.
They start school, and our hits with the chisel become smaller, more purposeful—learning to tell the truth, to face failure and rejection, to be grateful. We drive to lessons, concerts, games, friends’ houses, and church. We teach by example. We mold with actions and words. And the original block is no longer recognizable. There’s definitely a figure in there.
As they grow, our strokes become even finer, even more subtle. We are the sounding board, the needed shoulder, the confidante. We brush away tears and bask in triumphs. We step back and evaluate the sculpture with an ever-critical eye. What else do I need to remove? Where are the weak spots? Have I done enough in this area? It’s almost finished.
When the chisel work is complete, out comes the polishing cloth. The sculpture is almost complete. We listen and advise now, moving into the background. But how long will I have to polish it, to refine it, to shine it? Will I ever feel like it’s finished? Will I ever be able to part with my master work? And who will be the one to fall in love with my work of art—and then take it away from the sculptor forever? Will they be good enough? Will they treat my work with respect and awe and love it, even more than I do?
My first masterpiece is complete. My hammer and chisel and brush have rested for a time, and now it’s time to retire the polishing cloth. The angel has emerged, even more beautiful than I imagined.
She’s free at last.
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