THE LION IN THE MARBLE

There was once a sculptor who worked hard with hammer and chisel on a large block of marble. A little child who was watching him saw nothing more than large and small pieces of stone falling away left and right. He had no idea what was happening. But when the boy returned to the studio a few weeks later, he saw, to his surprise, a large, powerful lion sitting in the place where the marble had stood. With great excitement, the boy ran to the sculptor and said, “Sir, tell me, how did you know there was a lion in the marble?”

Source | Henri Nouwen, Clowning in Rome, (Image, 2000) pages 83-84

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • What is your answer to the above question? One possible answer is: “I knew there was a lion in the marble because before I saw the lion in the marble, I saw him in my own heart. The secret is that it was the lion in my heart that recognized the lion in the marble.”
  • “The art of sculpture is, first of all, the art of seeing. In one block of marble, Michelangelo saw a loving mother holding her dead son on her lap, while in another, he saw a self-confident David ready to hurl his stone at the approaching Goliath, and in a third, he saw an irate Moses at the point of rising in anger from his seat. Visual art is indeed the art of seeing, and the practice of disciplines is a way to make visible what has been seen. The skillful artist is a liberator who frees from bondage the figures hidden for billions of years inside the marble. The artist reveals the true identity of the figures!” | Henri Nouwen, Clowning in Rome, (Image, 2000) page 84

CHIP IT AWAY

There is a story about a man who had a huge boulder in his front yard. He grew weary of this big, unattractive stone in the center of his lawn, so he decided to take advantage of it and turn it into an object of art. He went to work on it with hammer and chisel, and  chipped away at the huge boulder until it became a beautiful stone elephant. When he finished, it was gorgeous, breath-taking.

A neighbor asked, “How did you ever carve such a marvelous likeness of an elephant?”

The man answered, “I just chipped away everything that didn’t look like an elephant!”

James W. MooreSome Things Are Too Good Not To Be True, Nashville: Dimensions, 1994, p. 32.

  • “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”Michelangelo
  • “Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Michelangelo
  • “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”Michelangelo

REFLECTION

Every person is like a slab of marble, pregnant with potential and possibility. There is greatness and radical goodness within, but it has to be tapped into and gently carved out.

If you have anything in your life right now that doesn’t look like love, kindness, mercy and compassion, gently find ways to chip it away!  If you have hatred or prejudice or vengeance or envy in your heart, gently find ways to chisel it away, thus setting free the true identity of who you were intended to be from the beginning!

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