I have an unlikely ambition for someone as weak and disabled by chronic illness as I am; I should like to sculpt. I have ideas for wood, stone and bronze, that would be pieces of interactive art. I don’t know if they will ever be a reality, and if I ever did have the space and resources, it would be most likely that someone else would have to do the lion’s share of the work. Nothing is impossible with God of course, but some things do seem so far removed from likelihood as to be, not so much pie in the sky, but as we say in our house, flan on the moon.
What is the appeal of sculpture, and how might we let God teach us through it? I think that the idea of carving a substance until it is exactly the shape it ought to be, the one we envisage in our minds or imaginations, is a great analogy for understanding how our Father shapes each one of us, if we will allow ourselves to be moulded by his artist’s hands. The Bible speaks of him as the potter, with us as the clay, and we can take great hope from this idea, knowing that when God throws a pot, no matter how it initially splats on the wheel, or how lopsided it might look during the spinning, when the master is done with us, we will be perfectly ourselves.
The same is true if we see God as the great sculptor, finding us as a slab of marble and hewing us into some kind of rough shape before chipping away and then smoothing us out into the shape that was hiding in the grain of the stone all the time. Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” as well as, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
Perhaps when we learn to see with God’s eyes we might be able to perceive the angel that is standing before us in the marble of our fellow human beings, and even occasionally to glimpse them in the mirror. For some reason, God has decided that our true selves are worth setting free, and however hard it is to let him keep on working upon us until that image arises out of the raw material, it will be worth it in the end.
Maybe we might even consider the work of kenosis or self-emptying as giving God free rein with the chisel, and accept that a great deal needs to be let go. Once our outer defences and ego are chipped away, maybe an angel might step out into the light. For God, that beautiful person was there all along, and the layers that trapped him or her, were no barrier to his sight.
For the first forty years of my life, I doubted there was a writer hidden away in me. For the first forty-four, I had no idea I was an artist. Do you think one day God might uncover the sculptress too? What wonders are hiding in you, that might be set free by heavenly hands chiselling away at your earthly rock?
Text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt Photo from Pixabay