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Michelangelo: Arm Studies

One of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s highlight exhibits this season was Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer. Seeing many of the master’s works-in-progress (or, better still, works-of-progress) in detail was difficult to do given the crowds, and so what struck me more than his religious works were his very human form studies. The Renaissance was a time for artists to deeply understand human anatomy, and this became a point of seeming obsession with Michelangelo and his contemporaries. Rather than the body as a burden of the soul, it was now a physical manifestation of the soul.

How an artist draws hands is particularly fascinating, since they’re a part of the body that is essential — though plenty of artists, including drawers, have bucked that trend. They are the artist’s point of creation, the point in which thought becomes manifest as deed. In a way, hands can be seen as both noun and verb.

So, too, can the word “God,” whatever resonance or synonym that word has for you. In many theistic theologies, there are those who posit that God is an act of creating. There are Christian writings on this, and also notable is the Kabbalistic notion of God as an active state, of equipotency.

In his book, Everything is God, Jay Michaelson writes of the Jewish name for God (YHVH), as, in one sense God, in another sense, “Being and Nothingness, all that Is and all that Becomes” (see yesterday's post on Cindy Sherman for self and no-self as a companion to this). Michaelson quotes Rabbi Arthur Green: “God is both being and becoming, noun and verb, stasis and process.” The divine is within us, not external or even adjacent. We are all draftsmen and designers. We all of us possess the capacity to create. If God is a verb, we are all of us godding.

Today’s Contemplation: How are you godding? What are you creating? Where are you creating stasis and where are you creating process?