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The human hand is capable of creating objects of breathtaking beauty.  It is a talent that I have always been in awe of whether it was the Great Masters or my brother-in-law, Danny’s, work.  The ability to make the image flow from your mind into a physical form is a skill which will always be inspiring to me.  It is this love of artistic achievement in all its forms that drives many of the things on my Bucket List.

And, today is the day in of these was gifted to the world.  It was on this day in 1512 that Michelangelo revealed to the world the wonder he had created on the vaulted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

As an admirer of the beauty of human artwork and a Roman Catholic, the Sistine Chapel was an important item on that Bucket List.  I have, of course, seen images of the work that have been published in any number of books on the subject.  However, with a work like this I knew that beholding it first hand would be a wildly different experience.

I had no idea.

This particular item was checked off that List, along with several others, during my honeymoon in October or 2004.  My wife and I had planned the trip to be memorable, wanting our first days as husband and wife to be indelibly stamped in our memories.  And it worked.  I will remember those moments forever.  Each one a different experience.

Stepping off a bus in Rome and into St.Peter’s Square was humbling enough.  Passing through the corridors of the Vatican Museum even more so.  But stepping through that threshold and into the Sistine Chapel….

There is a scene in the movie “Good Will Hunting” in which Sean (Robin Williams) is chastising Will (Matt Damon), explaining to him that all of the things he knows intellectually mean little without experiences to make them real.  One of the things he says is “But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel.”  That quote went through my head as I crossed that threshold.  It hit me because the reality of what I was seeing amde every attempt ever made to describe it or illustrate it seem weak and shallow.

Here I stood in the presence of one of mankind’s greatest works.  It was arrayed all around me.  It was so large, so beautiful, so overwhelming that it was impossible to take it all in.  One was left to stand in awe and wonder.  I have read many books about religion.  I have studied the conceptualization of sacred spaces.  But, I had never in my life experienced such a grand demonstration of the concept.

This was a truly sacred space.

There has been much written about the politics and other aspects of the creation of the masterwork on the ceiling of the Chapel.  I have read much of it myself.  But, somehow all of those concerns seem trivial once you are faced with the reality of what was created there.

I, for one, am eternally thankful to Michelangelo for what he created.  His works are studies of what the human soul can create.  His ceiling in the Sistine Chapel a testament to the inspiration that can be given to us by a higher power.

All we need do is listen.


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