He Took Action

action habits hammer less is more marble

He Took Action

I’m sitting in a small but modern library in a town outside Aspen, Colorado.  There is one glorious arm chair facing a four by four by four foot solid block of white marble which I have claimed as my own.  There seems to be an abundance of marble here as there are six such blocks spaced symmetrically for the readers’ viewing pleasure.

I never see a block of marble without thinking of Michelangelo, who carefully chose his as yet unshaped raw stone and then miraculously shaped it into such lifelike figures that people still gasp when they see the statues, many, many years after their creation.  How does a block of stone get turned into curves with sinews and tendons and muscles and ligaments?  How does someone take a block of unshaped stone and make it breathe?

One careful hammer stroke at a time—chipping away everything that doesn’t look like the artist’s vision.  Sometimes art isn’t about addition—it is about subtraction.

Less is more.

A recent article in Vanity Fair magazine talked about how to escape the perpetual browsing mentality.  One can so easily get stuck in the vortex of constantly scrolling or shifting left or right to see what might next appeal to the human fancy.

Yet the article says that people who commit to a single cause in a community are far happier overall than someone who keeps scrolling, scrolling, scrolling—never making a choice.  Never taking action on any single thing.

Jesus, who was obviously not fond of writing things down, was a man of action.  His restless energy moved throughout his neighborhood, asking the single question “What would you have me do for you?”  And then, whatever the request was, he acted upon it.

There were no committee delays, no ponderous passings of the buck, no moving the question up or down the block chain.  He took the powers in his hands and feet and mind and heart and poured them into the human need before him, one person at a time.  One action at a time.

I wonder how his work could be so relevant today, as I sit and look at white marble blocks before me.  There are a few indentations on each side, where some quarry worker hammered to free them from the face of the mountain.

You and I are works of stone—shaped by the breath of others, the hearts and dreams of others.  And yet oddly, like a statue I once saw, we must hammer away at our own form, becoming the self-shaped human being that currently lives as yet Unfree in the stone.

The action Jesus took most often was not adding additional layers to something, but unbinding and freeing what was underneath.  Perfect, but as yet un breathing.

Less browsing.  More focused action.

One artistic, intentionally aimed hammer stroke at a time.

What habit needs to be cut away in you that could help you be more free, more caring, more like the you that you want to become?

I guarantee there is action involved, an action that you can take today.

What shall it be?  Hmmmm....where shall you place that chisel, and when exactly will you let the hammer fall?