A few months back I decided I wanted to bike a century, 100 miles, something I had never tried before. I reached out to a couple of friends and we started to train hard for 2 months to get ready for the race.
One of the beautiful things about riding so much was that I had a lot of time on the bike to chat. As some of our rides were very long, we really got to cover a lot of topics: What was going on in our daily lives, hopes and dreams, fears and obstacles.
One day, at the end of our ride, two of my friends shared some beautiful thoughts they have about me. In the past I have had a hard time just sitting with beautiful feedback, taking it in, REALLY taking it in and acknowledging it, both to myself and to the friends that provided the feedback. This time I did.
I was blown away by feelings, not so much the beauty of their remarks, as the beauty in my friends themselves. You see, when we share beauty, that beauty ultimately originates within ourselves. In order to be able to see, share and give beauty, it has to reside within us first. I was feeling such immense gratitude, for the beauty that they had both shared with me. Their beauty.
It made me think of Michelangelo. In 1498, at the young age of 23, he was commissioned to sculpt the Pietà, for St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, a sculpture of Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus in her lap.
Michelangelo went to the marble quarries of central Italy, on the lookout for the perfect block of marble. The marble was very important, as he envisioned the sculpture already existing within it. He felt that his job was simply to “set it free". He finished his masterpiece in two years. His paintings at the Sistine chapel, considered the pinnacle of western art, took twelve. When asked about this incredible work, he simply answered that he was "not much of a painter after all, but rather a sculptor". He was not only a Renaissance man, but also a humble one.
The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
Michelangelo was deeply spiritual and believed his art was inspired by the Divine. He was searching for God in beauty and for beauty in God. This is what I was thinking about with regards to my friends. Call it God, the Divine, intuition. Whatever powerful sources of beauty and good we feel. They tapped into their own beauty, in order to make it manifest outside of themselves. In this case, with their words. As Michelangelo did. He tapped into the Divine, and through his soul it manifested outside of himself. Today, 500 years later, we can still admire those manifestations.
That is beauty!
"A beautiful thing never gives so much pain as does failing to hear and see it."