Instead of a poem, this week I'll use photos of a sculpture to save me from writing a full blown bulletin letter.
The sculpture is titled "The Deposition" or just one more "Pieta." Whatever it's called, I really like it. I saw it years ago in the museum next to the Cathedral in Florence. It was tucked away in a cramped little low-ceilinged alcove and there was not a soul paying it any mind. It shows the very, very dead corpse of Jesus being lowered from the cross with Mary on the right and Mary Magdeline on the left. The towering figure in back who is easing the body to the ground is Nicodemas.
The sculpture is maybe halfway completed. In his old age, in his spare time, Michelangelo had worked on it for eight years. He intended it as his own grave marker but abandoned the project-- perhaps because the marble turned out to be faulty or perhaps because he didn't think he'd finish in time or perhaps... who knows. We do know that the hooded man in back, Nicodemas, is Michelangelo's self portrait and that the oddly out-of-place figure of Mary Magdeline was actually carved by a student long after Michelangelo had abandoned the work. (A brave effort by a student but--holy cow--did he make a big mistake.)
I think I really like this sculpture because it is so unfinished--the rough chisel marks are clear and deep all through the figures, only some sections of Jesus' corpse are smooth and polished-- and because Nicodemas looms so strikingly yet gently. In the Gospel, Nicodemas is a good man, a responsible man, who is seeking something more in life and he comes to Jesus to see what He's about. Obviously, Nicodemas finds in Him what he sought. But, as the sculpture embodies in its chisel marks and rough hewn features, Nicodemas and his search are nowhere near finished. There's much more to be done.
Who knows, maybe Michelangelo left his sculpture unfinished because, unfinished, it, in fact, was done.