“I waited in a world of magic
smells of good food, the street lamps, the
smoke coming from chimneys,
the candles burning in windows, the snow.
Angels feasted, as I did, on existence and God
kept saying, “Have more of what I made.”
~Catherine of Siena
In Florence yesterday, it was as if the Holy kept whispering in my ear….”Have more of what I made.” Over and over again, around every corner, down every street, in every face that approached, there was beauty. “Have more of what I made.” The smells of good food and the smiles on faces as they tasted the rich flavors of their gelato…..have more of what I made. The light falling on golden buildings creating sights that seemed to be paintings come alive as if by some spiritual force unknown, but seen. Art everywhere. Everywhere. Have more of what I made.
We began our morning gazing skyward at Michelangelo’s David. There are no words to describe the sheer presence and power of this sculpture. Leading up to the marble statue, there are other blocks of stone, unfinished pieces by this artist who lived to be 89 years old. Unheard of longevity for his time but it seems it would take more than a hundred lifetimes to produce the magnitude of art which he created. These blocks of stone represented his understanding that the statue, what was to be created, already existed in the stone. His work was to simply carve away what was not needed in order to reveal to the world what was hidden. This metaphor for our own lives was not lost on me. What must be chipped away in order to reveal what beauty is hidden in the soul?
The day was held in color and texture, in sight and smell and sound. Coming around one corner, we found ourselves on a piazza. People stood all around as a young woman, in jeans and a black t-shirt, held a microphone. Sitting nearby a young man sat with an accordion. Her gorgeous soprano floated out over the piazza, the opera that was born in the very air around becoming a presence in the open sky. The notes rose heavenward and as she finished the aria, our eyes glazed over with tears of gratitude and awe. So much beauty.
At day’s end, I reflected on the beauty that had been my food, literally and figuratively, during the day. The question became, ” Is it possible to have too much beauty?” Is it? I don’t believe so. I do think there comes a point at which one needs to step back, open your heart once again, and simply hold the beauty as it finds a home in you. I wondered, as I always do in such situations, if the people who make these places home begin to not notice, to take the beauty for granted, to not really see. I pray not.
Have more of what I made. Catherine of Siena is said to have placed these words in the mouth of the Sacred. Certainly that was my experience yesterday. It was as if all the beauty, all the goodness, all the possibility of human creation was spread like a feast before me. My only work was to pay attention, to notice, to be filled with wonder and to lift up my grateful heart.
And so I did.