“Michelangelo knew… A most powerful tool of the Master Sculptor, Loss is.” Loss is a life teacher, and our losses may be our hardest learning. But just as chiseling away the marble revealed Michelangelo’s masterpiece David, so does loss sculpt the beauty of our souls.
Our losses carry fear with them
Beyond loss itself, we consequently grapple with fear of it. The void that loss creates in us feels gigantic and black. Fear of more loss becomes crippling. Potentially it keeps us from risking anything that might repeat it. And of course, the losses we take around love feel the most brutal. We open our hearts, and sometimes they are crushed.
It is only by moving through the fear that we finally achieve the fullness of loss lessons. When we can acknowledge and embrace the good that came out of our losses, we are able to move on to risk again. Taking risk, being willing to make mistakes, reaching out for all that life has to offer in the face of potential loss, leads to great growth and gains.
My poem about Michelangelo and his creation of the famous sculpture David is a metaphor for how loss lessons grow our souls. Interestingly, the statue depicts the legendary David, of David and Goliath fame. David risked his life to take on the giant, an act of courage and faith.
Loss Unveils the Masterpiece
Michelangelo knew …
A most powerful
tool of the Master Sculptor,
It was the taking
away that unveiled
to the world.
“I saw the angel
in the stone and
set him free.”
Inside every raw
slab of marble
awaits a masterpiece
to be revealed.
We are all
of art in progress.
And losing a beloved
is perhaps the
chisel of all.
We gasp, clasping
our hearts when
our loved one dies
or leaves us.
How will we ever
risk to love again?
And yet, we do.
For in our loss
we learn to cherish
the value of love.
the power and
importance of “now”.
And we grow.
Love is the fine grit
that hones the
rough broken edges
to a polished glow.
The answer to our
growth lies within
the problem itself.
Michelangelo, you said
God guided your hand.
And in the taking away,
David is your work of Love,
and a lesson for us all.
The beloved poet Rumi wrote about beauty, and a favorite quote has been, “Beauty surrounds us”. But much to my surprise, I discovered just lately that the full quote is actually, “Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be in a garden to know it”. Yes! He was making the point that we tend to tune in on a narrow bandwidth for seeing beauty. This was really driven home to me personally when I began to travel.
My old lens sought landscapes lush and green
I started my travels almost 20 years ago in paradise: Hawaii. When I close my eyes and picture the plumeria trees, the heavenly scent floats back to me, and with it all of my memories of Hawaii. You might imagine that this would be my epitome of landscape beauty, but that is not true.
I grew up immersed in rugged, expansive and stunning landscapes, with lush green summers and glorious fall color. Art was my passion, and my goal was to show people the beauty that surrounds them, every day. My eyes became used to seeing the Earth in a certain way, that of the landscapes I painted. And when I began traveling, that was the lens that I took with me.
Suffice to say, Hawaii was a delight. But, being as lush as it is, it did not challenge my idea of beauty one whit. In fact, it only helped to “raise the bar”. Australia, on the other hand, significantly challenged my viewpoint.
Australian summer started to stretch me
We arrived in Australia in December, the beginning of their summer. To say that Aussie summers are harsh is an understatement. The intense sun and heat are severe and unforgiving. In extremely short order, the grass is fried to a crisp, and the eucalyptus trees take on a dull drabness. In my eyes the landscape was colorless; as Mom would say, “nothing to write home about”.
Eventually, we arrived at a point near Adelaide, South Australia, where we decided to stay put for awhile. Daily I tramped up and down, again and again, a dusty little dirt road for my exercise. Usually I walked an hour a day, so that meant many laps of the same short road. For personal safety I did not venture off my route, as the area was somewhat remote from town.
I learned a broader way of seeing beauty
Day after day there was seemingly nothing new to look at. I was therefore forced to examine every detail and nuance of that road to relieve the boredom. And little-by-little, the beauty blossomed before my eyes.
Like Monet, I love the play of light on a landscape. I have tried to capture that often in my own paintings. I started to schedule my walks for dusk. At that time of day, the sky was softening from hard azure to soft pinks and apricot. The sunlight turned deep golden, burnishing the rough trunks and dry leaves of the eucalyptus trees that rimmed the road.
And the birds came out to play
And, perhaps best of all, the pink galahs and cockatoos came out to play. The respite from the torrid heat was their invitation to soar and cavort. The distinctive calling of the birds in unison echoed over the valley. Previously I had only ever seen a cockatoo imprisoned in a pet cage back home. Something about those birds playing together unleashed a feeling of freedom in my soul. It was if they were calling out to me, “Open your eyes, open your eyes; come play with us!”
The brown, dry grassland receded, and I was surrounded by beauty that I could not see at first glance. That was because I had been looking through the same old lens, using it as a measuring stick to judge and reject.
There are many lessons on the big road of travel
All these years since, I have very fond memories of that little dirt road. I can picture it clearly to this day. It opened my eyes wider, and I saw deeper. I spent many a walk along that road, whispering “show me the magic”, for I was also struggling with loneliness. And it did reveal itself to me, as told in my story Miracle in the Park.
Being a landscape artist, I believed I knew this already. And to a certain degree, I did. But throughout my travels, I am still learning it in a deeper and deeper way. I am falling in love with the world. Thank you, Australia, for showing me a different way of looking.
It’s a big world out there. Seeing beauty everywhere takes desire and a broader point of view. But, it’s always there to be found, for eyes that want to see.
Hawaii is a major tourism destination, and in Honolulu, a tourist experience is definitely what it’s all about. However, when I ventured away from Waikiki Beach, the real Hawaii began to reveal herself to me. I discovered a slower speed of living, a quiet grace, and inevitably I experienced the sacredness of the Hawaiian Aloha.
The Hawaiian Aloha – Not just a word, but a way of living
Aloha. This native Hawaiian word is rooted in “alo”, meaning presence or face, and “ha”, meaning breath. Aloha is most commonly used for both hello and goodbye. However, this word runs much deeper than these superficial meanings. In the Hawaiian culture, words express “mana” (pronounced: mah’nah, meaning spiritual or divine power), and aloha is among the most sacred. Aloha is a greeting of love when expressed with sincerity.
Hawaiians and haoles alike embrace aloha. (Haole is the Hawaiian term for anyone not native Hawaiian or Polynesian.) The culture collectively practices the spirit of aloha in daily life and human interaction. The essence of Hawaii tends to pull one back to the basics of life. That is, the beauty of nature, and what is important between human beings.
Your words have great power
Aloha typifies the power of our language, and how we affect other people with it. Words are potent, therefore it behooves us to choose and use them wisely. In this confused and too-often-angry world, sometimes we feel powerless to effect positive change. However our words, over which we have sole control, are one way we can do that.