It’s hard to see what the sculptor is trying to form with this shapeless chunk of dusty marble. The chisel cuts the marble to the quick, driven by the merciless hammer, biting deep into the dark surface to expose the brilliant whiteness within.
I strain to pick out some kind of a shape. It looks like the sculptor’s just smashing away at the marble, cracking it and breaking it. A curve here, a line there – nothing makes sense. And all the while marble shavings rain down around the sculptor’s feet.
I almost want to be mad at that sculptor. Why does he cut at it so heedlessly? It’s not the prettiest thing to start with, but surely being ugly is better than being broken. He’s not making sense. He’s just shattering it.
Curves and lines, sharp angles that meet like sword’s blades in battle, long flowing arcs that start nowhere and end in midair, wavy wrinkles in the stone all appear at the chisel’s thoughtless blade. The marble is hard, but the chisel is sharp. Dust gathers in the clefts, hiding some of the lines, making it even more confusing. The sculptor taps out a shape, then takes his hammer and smashes it deep into the marble without warning. I cry out in shock, in pain almost as a great chunk of it falls away, but miraculously, the marble holds. Unperturbed, the sculptor gets his chisel back and starts again, tapping, working ceaselessly at that poor mangled stone.
Finally, when the stone is but a twisted shadow of its former solidity, a fragile thing with no trace of its earlier self-independence, the sculptor seems satisfied with his desecration. He steps back and lays down his hammer. The big, scarred hand finds a brush with bristles as soft as snow. Stepping back to the stone, he starts to brush the dust out of the lines. He works slowly, cleanly; sweat and dust mingle on his brown skin. Then he steps back and the beauty hits me like a wave of seawater.
It’s a horse. The sculpture, I mean. Life-sized. Hindlegs on the ground, forelegs upraised as if in prayer, and so real that I half expect it to leap off its iron hocks. The mane sighs down its bending neck, every hair carved out realistically enough to ripple in the wind; the nostrils so delicate they almost move with the marble horse’s breath. Muscles stand out around its shoulders and hindquarters, a tail held high, pouring down in a white cascade. The marble that was so dull and dusty now glitters like a snowflake frozen mid-descent until a soft radiance seems to roll off the statue’s smooth flanks. Exquisitely noble, its head is raised to taste the wind; great marble eyes stare out from under a marble fetlock as fine as a breeze; it is not so much a carving of stone as a real horse caught in the middle of its mighty leap and held there for eternity.
The sculptor turns to me, shaking marble dust out of his midnight curls, and he smiles and his eyes are as deep as seas. “This is last year,” he says. “I had to use the chisel and the hammer to carve it out and I know it hurt, my little love, when I had to break down your own plans and replace them with mine. But look what that sorry mess of a twelvemonth has become.”
“Sculpt my life, Sir,” I say.
Jesus holds out His right hand. It’s a beautiful hand; the fingers long, elegant, slender as a king’s, small straight bones and strong tendons moving gracefully under a skin of the loveliest shade of pale brown. It’s a perfect hand, and the deep, puckered round scar in the centre of the palm makes it all the more perfect. It’s almost too beautiful to hold, but when I tentatively reach out to take it, the skin is all the softer for its brownness, the grip all the gentler for its strength.
Sculpt my life, Sir. Sculpt the year that is to come. I’ll set goals and I’ll dream dreams, but Your plan is so much greater than mine, my mighty love. It’s not the marble horse that counts, not the sculpture that next year might become. It’s the Sculptor that matters. Sculpt my life, Sir. AMEN!
(For The Daily Prompt).