“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him.”
“We are quite proud of your works, Michelangelo.” The man, whose flowing white beard belied his swiftness, caught up and carried the renowned sculptor, painter, and architect.
Buonarroti bowed his head in humble deference, marveling at the resonance of the voice, measured and commanding, yet gentle too.
“Yes, in fact peaceful,” breathed the artist, quietly.
His companion gave him a smile, confirming and echoing the thought.
“Take this piece, for instance, one of your first.” They stopped before a well known piece of art.
Before them was the bas-relief of the Madonna of the Stairs. The lovely face of the virgin as she sits in repose on a staircase, cradling the infant Jesus, is peaceful as she watches what appear to be children at play. One in particular stares at the pair, seeming especially interested in them.
“Yes, I was but sixteen when I cut that stone. The Madonna is seated on the Rock, holding her Son, and seeing a vision of Him ascending to Heaven.”
Nodding as though this was a fact already known, the man swept onward with him. Though stately, his stride rapidly covered many miles, until they stood finally over a garden overgrown with moss.
Michelangelo recognized with embarrassment a younger vision of himself, struggling with his violent temper. Voices from the past echoed.
“Michelangelo, I did not intend to ruin…” The high pitched voice of the frightened co-apprentice was cut short by the vicious words and a fist in the mouth.
His companion lifted the artist’s lowered chin, wiping the tears from his cheeks. “Yes, my friend, you had quite the temper. Yet, you set things right with that young man and you became friends.”
“Yes, his name was Grannaci.” Michelangelo grinned, feeling more relaxed.
“And this! What a magnificent likeness of our beloved David!” He enthused, turning to face Buonarroti. “He approves of it as well you know.”
“King David…has seen…my statue?”
“Most certainly; we watched together as you struggled with the flawed block of marble, seeing the form of the statue; tension running from the upraised hand poised to sling the stone and the far-seeing look of the eyes, down to the lifted heel, even before you had made the first chisel mark. Shall we move on?”
They glided over the Santa Trinita Bridge in Florence. Michelangelo saw the scene of a meeting at this very point with Leonardo da Vinci.
The flamboyant Leonardo had rudely challenged him, eliciting a slashing response from Buonarotti. Michelangelo had felt pleased with himself that night. He now turned repentantly to his companion.
“Forgiven long ago, my friend.” A gentle hand touched the artist’s bent shoulders.
Without waiting, they sped over more green landscape until they stood before a great basilica in the Eternal City; St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The architect stood calmly appraising the work, the one he undoubtedly loved the most, and had not lived to complete. Yet that did not matter now.
They were finally at the last stop. As he stood in the center of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo looked about him, remembering flashes of moments as strokes of paint across a canvas. Battle red for the many battles that had embroiled him during the long, backbreaking years of this project mingled with the royal colors of cyan and gold, lovingly used to paint these frescos of the saints, sinners, and scenes of separation and salvation.
He felt himself lifted once again to the very top of the chapel, to the scenes on the Central Stones depicting the stories from Genesis.
He trembled at the sight of his own paintings of things that he now realized were beyond his own understanding at the time he had done the work.
The One who had lifted him spoke:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…”
They swept toward the back of the Chapel, pausing briefly before the commanding mural depicting the Last Judgment. Christ’s authoritative pose as his hand is raised to pronounce the Final Judgment of the world, as Michelangelo had painted Him, now both terrified and pacified the artist, as they rose at last beyond the ceiling itself, through clouds and into the Glory that awaited beyond.
Then the Voice spoke again, saying:
“Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God there is none other like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning…”
Author’s footnote: Scripture references are Genesis 1:27 and 1:1 and Isaiah 46:9-10a NKJV
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