I am not a particularly religious person. I was born and raised in a predominantly Christian country and so grew up celebrating those ideals and holidays. I respect any person's beliefs or traditions and have to say, haven't really nailed down exactly what I do or don't believe just yet, however, I do believe in People. Real people who have real feelings and real lives and real problems. Indisputable people. We are all here; bobbing along on this sphere in space, trying to live alongside one another. A short glance at the headlines will illustrate that we are pretty far away from that goal right now. But people are trying, we are all trying. And during this struggle there is birth and death and marriage and illness and celebration and fun and hurt - sometimes all delivered in a mish-mash together, sometimes delivered in an 'it doesn't rain, but it pours' sort of scenario.
So right now, it is Easter time in the Christian calendar. A time when Christians celebrate Jesus' self-sacrifice on the cross to 'open the gates to heaven'. Now. Whatever you believe, its widely accepted that Jesus was a man who lived and died. He had a mum too, Mary. Again, regardless of whether you believe Jesus to be the Son of god or just a bloke, he existed and so did his mum. A Mother and Son. And I am sure, to Mary, aside from her son's status, he was her boy who did naughty stuff and funny stuff and made her laugh and weep and kept her awake and made her super frustrated and angry and happy and sad and all the other rollercoaster emotions you feel as a parent. Which is why 'The Pieta' has me moved to tears almost every time I even think about it.
The first and only time (so far) I have seen 'The Pieta' was during my honeymoon in Italy. We were in Rome for a part of it and went to Vatican City and into St Peter's Cathedral. I have to say I had no idea what was in there (apart from the famous Sistine Chapel ceiling which is a whole other queue and section which we were not prepared to queue for - 3 bloody hours!!) so when I saw it it literally stopped me in my tracks. It disarmed me. Tears welled up and I had to move away because I was going to be full on crying in front of a statue if I didn't move...
Here was a statue of a mum with her dead son in her arms. In total despair and crisis; awkwardly cradling this grown man, who was still her child. Wondering what she could have done to prevent this. Broken, numb. Even if you believe she was the mother of God, she was still a mum who just lost her baby. I thought this statue moved me back then, since I have had kids, it basically ruins me every time I see it.
You will see many critiques of the piece, looking at lines, drapery, crafmanship and quality and while all of these things are mind-blowing (its Michelangelo FFS..!) its the sadness of the piece that gets me every time. It could have been carved out of polystyrene with a blunt blade, but the fact that someone has seen what this woman would have been going through as a mum - not as 'Mary mother of God' but just as a mum having the worst day of her life, that is what makes this piece so moving to me.
So, I try to remember that while I am rushing about during my daily life, trying to get the kids around tesco without having a breakdown, or fill the car with diesel or negotiate a busy street, that someone might actually be having the worst day of their lives. Right there. Right next to me in the queue. If they are being a dick and not saying 'thank you' when I let them pull out or if they are being slow and dithery while I stand behind them waiting to pay, more often than not I have thoughts about flipping the bird or huffing loudly or making some exaggerated gesture to show my annoyance. But I am trying. I am trying to remember that they might be struggling with some catastrophic news or horrible pain and so sometimes I need to shut up and stand in line and let people take their time. And if they don't wave a 'thank you' or hurry themselves along, its not because they are purposefully being obstructive, it could be because they are suffering today.
I hope that this post hasn't brought you on a downer - it wasn't intended that way! I just needed to share why a statue carved out of marble brings all these thoughts and emotions into my head. Its a pretty awesome piece and even just from an artistic / aesthetic perspective, the workmanship and detail are just incredible. If you ever have the chance to see this piece, make it a priority. In fact, any of Michelangelo's works should be a priority if they are near to where you are. Anyways, always be kind and if you are celebrating Easter this weekend, I'm wishing you a very Happy Easter!