Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Words of Wisdom Wednesdays

A friend of mine who also blogs has Wordless Wednesdays. Since my blog is morphing more and more into an opportunity for me to put my thoughts in writing (hopefully so that Lydia can read them one day, but also as an exercise in the discipline of writing) I have decided to try doing "Words of Wisdom" Wednesdays. Basically, there are things that I think are really great ideas and I want to remember to teach these things to my kid. So hopefully this will remind me of these concepts when I need reminding, hopefully it will keep them in my mind to tell her, and if not, she can read it someday.

So, for this dreary February Wednesday, when my head feels achy and I have a sore throat, and my husband has definitely caught a bad cold (so he is not able to help much at home), when my bank account is smaller and my bills are larger than I would like, when spring break seems SO far away, and the piles of papers to grade, laundry to fold, and dishes to wash seem larger than I want to deal with, when my weight is up and my energy level is down ......I am trying to remember these words of Wisdom. "Even the pope needed a way to get away from it all."

The pope? Yep! Specifically this pope, Julius II, the man behind the painting of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo (along with many other important commissions). I am not sure where I picked up this interesting tidbit of art historical information. Probably in college, so Dr. Townsend (if you are reading this via Facebook) help me out with the details!

Anyway, when learning the undisputed facts about Pope Julius commissioning the painting of this ceiling, my professor mentioned something about the Pope wanting sometimes needing to "get away from it all". I am not sure where the lecture ends and where my own imagination picks up, but the idea of the Pope, the most powerful person in Renaissance Europe ( a man who never had to bother with a mortgage, or bills, or cramps, didn't have kid, or a spouse, etc. etc.) needed a place to go, to calm his mind when the weight of a world of souls (OK, maybe being pope could get stressful) was just too much for him. The pope had the resources to hire artists to create fantastic visions to take him away from his problems, but also the pope NEEDED that.

Even the people who seem to have it all (all the power, all the money, all the resources) still have their moments when they feel like they can't cope. If they can have these moments, so can I. It's normal to feel down and it WILL pass. Try to find a way to take a break and focus on the things that help you get through it all and it might pass more quickly, or you may at least be in a better frame of mind to face your problems.

P.S. A friend of mine has a related lesson about people with no resources that I need to remember to elaborate on later (don't let me forget, OK?)

Aside from remembering that it is only human to need a break every so often, I also like to look at what worked for Pope Julius when he was stressed. Michelangelo's figures are just so strong and yet so graceful and often very calming. This is how I want to look and feel when twisting and turning and reaching to get things done.

Here is one of my other favorite things about the ceiling of the Sistine. This is how Michelangelo thinks of God. Aside from wearing what looks like a pale pink hospital gown (is it wrong to chuckle at the thought that it ties in the back, leaving even God's arse exposed?) God is shown in this billow of fabric containing heavenly beings. In The Creation of Adam, you can really see the details of these figures that apparently have been floating around with God since the beginning of the world. See that one woman under God's arm? Most historians agree that she is meant to either be Eve or the virgin Mary. Either way, the message Michelangelo sends with this tiny detail in a small part of a really big ceiling is that even at the beginning of the world, God knows how it is going to end. Either he knew Adam would have an Eve (and all that would happen between those two) or that as a result of Adam and Eve the world would need a virgin Mary, through which we get Jesus. Sobering thought. If God's plan had already worked out all those details, I probably shouldn't worry so much about the details of my own life. I like the idea that some of those unseen figures in that God cloud play a part in my life too.

And then there's Adam, lounging on Earth, not yet fully alive, waiting for God to touch his life. I wish I could be more like him, relaxed as could be, waiting for God's hand to touch his life.
No wonder Pope Julius liked to come here to get away from the world.
And thanks for the inspiration, Michelangelo!
Maybe next time I am struggling with life in general, I can think of his masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel....... or maybe I can spend a little more time focusing on my own little masterpiece.

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