The crowd pressed about each piece in silent curiosity, following the careful path routed by a talented curator. The exhibit was at the Metropolitan Musuem of Art, and the artist whose work was being celebrated was Michelangelo. The path traced his drawings and sketches from his apprenticeship through his architectural work and above it all was replica of the Sistine Chapel. That, the richness of the color and the intensity of the pieces, spilled onto all the sketches and the spectators below. It was breathtaking.
The narrative was rich and revealing: Michelangelo saw the real and worked to create the ideal, the best expression of who we are. His works are wrapped around the Christian story, one image at a time, and reveal facets of plot and character wrapped in historical context. Standing in awe before them, unraveling his insights and perspective is both humbling and challenging.
What he designed in sketches layered over in studies, roughed out with colleagues, were wonders and mysteries rooted in the wealth of his understanding. It belongs to each generation to explore and rediscover, to find the elements of the message that resonate and to create a contemporary expression, to bring the understanding to life somehow. Michelangelo dared to pursue the development of his talents, the precision of his insights, and in so doing, he generated images revered and reviewed for centuries.
Catholicism invites each of us to be part of that dynamic process of creation in the world we live in. The works are neither static nor inaccessible; we too belong to the process of learning and understanding and becoming more.