An Angel Inside the Rock
Updated: Oct 16
When we were in Florence, we spent a day in the Galleria dell”Accademia di Firenze. I think you all know by now how much I admire the masters and the beauty captured in their art.
The Renaissance was one of the greatest periods of creative and intellectual achievement in world history. It was an extraordinary upsurge of learning and artistic activity that spread throughout Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. Appreciation of beauty was also a focal point of the new Renaissance.
The early Renaissance was the rebirth of classical values. Beauty in all things was thought to have deep inner virtue and was therefore essential in the path towards God.
While jostling with other sightseers to get a glimpse of Michelangelo’s David, I remembered an anecdote I’d heard years before. A man was standing with his eight-year-old son gazing up at Michelangelo’s amazing monument, and the boy said, “But Daddy! I thought you said David was a little boy!”
We were fortunate enough to close down the museum and get a private look at David. My kids kept running back to get another look at him.
David is not a little boy, but a magnificent young man, and standing at fourteen feet, the little boy who slew the giant has become a giant. The boy-David has become Goliath.
The block of marble was already there. Another artist had started on it and given up. David’s head and hands are oversized because they were designed to be seen from far below.
We are all inclined to read into art our own ideas. Such is the ambiguity of great art. While one may frown upon Michelangelo’s gigantic display of human greatness, another viewer might propose that David’s perfection is a sign of man’s greatness when he lives in obedience to God and sets out to fight evil in the world. You see in this magnificent perfection what each one of us might be if we, with the innocent obedience of a child, step out in faith to face the Goliaths of this world.
Michelangelo’s great work is rooted in the optimism that man was created in God’s image, empowered by grace. David may very well stand as a potent symbol of what can be accomplished by Christian classical education in our day.
If we sometimes feel daunted by the Philistinism of the world we are in, we can look to David—who frowns in the direction of Goliath, ready to aim his sling. If those who are working hard to educate the young, preserve the ancient faith, cultivate the arts, and plant the seeds of Christianity sometimes grow weary, they may look to the muscular Christianity of Michelangelo and take heart. For in David, we see not only the beauty of strength, but the strength of innocence.
In the David, we see what Christian humanism can accomplish, and in contemplating the gigantic, little boy we can remember that God always uses the little things of the world to confound the mighty.
We Can approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere broaching. Let us keep refreshing perspectives like this one in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse where we often feel alone.
As the legend goes, one day Michelangelo was working on this marble that would become David, and a young child came by where he was working. The young boy asked Michelangelo why he was working so hard, hitting the rock. Michelangelo said to him, “Young boy, there is an angel inside of this rock and I am setting him free.”
Rejected by Those Lacking Vision
What many don’t know is that the marble was originally cut eleven years before Michelangelo was born. Its tall yet narrow shape was rejected by three world-class artists— Agostino di Duccio, Antonio Rossellino, and the great Leonardo da Vinci. All declined the commission, unable to see what the marble could become, except Michelangelo, and the rest is history.
How about you? What do you see when you look at the marble around your life? Do you see what God sees?
Most people I meet stop short of their best version because, like di Duccio, Rossellino, and da Vinci, they fail to see themselves the way God does.
Listen to David’s words in Psalm 139:13-14: For You formed my inward parts. You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. More than Marble
I am sure David smiled as he penned the words that would become Psalm 139, remembering the day he was anointed King of Israel. If you remember the story, God sent the prophet Samuel to Jesse to anoint one of his sons to be the next king, but God rejected all seven. Seven sons were invited to the anointing party but the eighth, the youngest, was rejected by his father! His father did not see what God sees. "But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look at his appearance or the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'” 1 Samuel 16:7 Maybe you’re like young David. You sense something great inside of you, but you are stuck. You feel like you aren’t enough. Not smart enough. Not skilled enough. Rejected over and over again. Just feeling defeated. You believe the lie that fear often paralyzes us with. Now it is time to believe in who God created you to be. It’s time you realize you are more than enough. An angel inside created on purpose in the likeness and image of Christ. You are God’s masterpiece in disguise. It is time to break out the hammer and chisel. Do the work to unleash your potential...the angel inside.
Silvia Farag, MSW, LSW, PsyD Candidate runs the Christian Center for Counseling and works with adolescent and adult clients in individual, couples & family therapy. Her personal philosophy is that through human connection, we can foster the encouragement needed to take courageous steps toward creating positive change. She uses evidenced based and strengths-based approaches & believes in the inherent ability of everyone to overcome when they are willing to step into their potential. Therapy illuminates the path so the client can make conscious steps towards emotional health. Her attitude is one of respect and acceptance of each client’s individuality, allowing for the creation of a safe, therapeutic space. Silvia serves with Coptic Women Fellowship, an archdiocese ministry focused on enriching, supporting, and strengthening the lives of women, along with the clergy and several accomplished women of the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of North America.