A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to see Michelangelo’s famous statue of David in the Accademia Museum here in Florence. I had heard, long before coming to Italy, what a masterpiece it was and what an incredible artist Michelangelo was, so I had pretty high expectations going in–although I must admit, very little knowledge in the area of art. I walked into the museum, wound my way through a couple of little rooms and found myself in a great hall staring at a massive white marble carving of a nude man–but my fascination was not on the details you might be thinking of!
I was immediately struck by a seemingly contradictory pair of features that had me baffled. How could an artist be so intricate, detailed, and talented to carve amazingly lifelike veins into the skin and be off on what would seem to be the most basic of skills–proportion. Indeed, David’s head and hands were sized for Goliath’s body! I just could not comprehend why Michelangelo was deemed such a gifted artist if he couldn’t even scale the human body correctly. I left disillusioned and critical of this so-called masterpiece.
A few days later, I was talking with one of my friends who is here studying art. She asked me what I thought of the David statue and I told her my rather negative opinion. Having never studied or even read about the field of art in general, I should have realized that my judgments were based on ignorance and therefore probably incorrect, but no, I spouted them off like a fool, pretending I knew what I was talking about. My friend, who was very gracious, laughed and said “you would be amazed at how many people get that wrong.” When I asked her to explain, she told me that Michelangelo was commissioned to do the statue of David for the top of the Duomo. If the statue was sitting up high as it was intended to be, everything would look the proper size and be to scale. The perspective for which it was designed to be seen is drastically different than how it is actually being viewed and thus it does not look right. My respect for Michelangelo and his craft was instantly renewed.
Perspective reared its confounding head again later that week as I looked at the drawings different students made of me when I posed for two of the Art academies in Florence. Although every single person was looking at me on the same day, at the same time, in the same clothes, with the same expression, in the same lighting–none of the pictures were alike. Every person had their own way of seeing me and I realized that just because we all look at something doesn’t mean we have the same vision of it.
Through these two events, God has shown me how powerful perspective is. The way we view something determines our attitude towards it. I was also startled to find (ok, more like forced to admit) that sometimes I look at things with the wrong perspective. How many times do I look at an opportunity and see an obstacle? How many times have I viewed a blessing as a burden? How often do I see someone God loves and behold them with contempt? Much like the statue of David was created to viewed from on high, we were created to look up to God for our vision instead of down to our own judgments. My prayer in all of this is that God will give me His perspective to see not only my own life, but also the world around me–for with His vision will come His heart, and with His heart I can become all that He desires me to be.
Today I get to share a poem I started to write on the back of an offering envelope during a church service over a year ago. I have carried it around in my Bible, unfinished, hoping that one day God would give me the rest of the words to complete it. Those words finally came today, I pray you will find them encouraging: