Can I just say that Florence is … breathtaking? It’s not just because the weather is always perfect or because the architecture is lovely or because of its red-tiled roofs surrounded by green hills. Nor is it the warmth of the people or their commitment to fine craftsmanship whether it’s wool, a leather jacket or a sandwich. Florence is the crown jewel of Tuscany and there is something about it that makes you want to stay there forever, even a country girl like myself. Perhaps it’s because Florence still retains the genius spirit of the Renaissance man – the passionate magician of marble, architecture, poetry or paint who gives his gifts to the world just because. It is here, during the Renaissance, that Man pleased God the most. He created. He told stories. He developed. He blossomed. He bloomed. Work and passion married, art and religion consummated, God and man touched fingers once again.

I sat and looked at Michaelangelo’s David for over an hour and its proximity to perfection overwhelmed me. It is truly a pinnacle, a height that has never been touched since. Gazing up at it, you realize that God does speak through us, through our hands, through our words, through our actions. Whether we give Him credit or not, God is always speaking, joining with us, involving us in the creation of the world. And the world would not be the same without Michaelangelo’s David.

Nor would it be as beautiful without Boticelli’s Venus or Primavera. Here you see the works of a man who is on the cusp of a great wave. Evoking the emotions of the myths within us with paint, canvas, dirty fingernails, brushes and the need to make a living. We must remember when we’re in the middle of a dirty job, tying and untying knots, kissing a cheek, slamming a door in anger, visiting a friend, we are creating the stories of who we are. We’re laying the patterns of our people and of our time. People will record them in ink or paint or cinema. And the stories will be passed down instructing people how they should or shouldn’t live.

Someday we might produce another David, a near-perfect representation of a moment – that embodies the human spirit trying to grapple with the anointing of God. Someday we might produce another lovely example of the journey toward a destiny and all the pitfalls that befall him. Yet I wonder if we’re so fragmented, so caught up in the pieces, that we’ll miss all of the irony impregnated in workmanship. Like stars named M-1102 rather than Casseiopia, will we lose our stories and eventually ourselves? And if we do, can we find our way back again?

The only way I know to fight it is to read the stories, share the stories, and live the stories. To remember things and take notice. To try to be specific. To name things in poetry rather than in fragmented pieces of chaos. And most of all, to love.

This is the renaissance way – wake up! Speak truth. Set free. Give sight. Heal. See the patterns. Feel the emotions. And worship. Bloom like the tiny wildflower in the middle of the desert where nobody will ever see you. Bloom anyway – just because. Deepen. Mature. Grow. Worship.

Florence is the place for an awakening. But if you can’t come, wake up anyway. Produce rather than consume. Arrange rather than throw away. Create rather than destroy. Live a story worth repeating. And remember to love, for none of it will have any power without it.

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