It was said that one of Michelangelo’s students approached him as he was staring at a dirt covered marble slab and asked him what he saw. Michelangelo replied, “I see an angel in the marble and I will carve until I set him free.

Dirt Covered Slab

Dirt Covered Slab

I have encountered a number of dirt covered marble slabs covered in my life. Some marble slabs are difficulties that come my way because of someone else’s bad choices. Some marble slabs are problems I have created all by myself. And, of course, sometimes I’m the biggest marble slab of all. Regardless of what they look like, all marble slabs have these things in common: 


      • They often appear very dirty and unpleasant
      • They look like there is no hope for them
      • They get in the way of what of something else I’d rather be doing
      • They appear to be obstacles instead of opportunities
      • I can’t judge their future by what they look like now

Regardless of the nature of marble slabs in my life, I have learned to approach them with Michelangelo’s attitude: it’s my task to free the marble angels. I can imagine him unrolling his leather case with all his carving tools, taking his wooden box of mallets and hammers and his favorite collection of brushes and starting to work.

Sculptor's Tools

Sculptor’s Tools

Here are attitudes that guide me to carving angels out of marble slabs:

      • A fundamental belief that something beautiful is hidden inside
      • It’s going to take time – I need to be patient
      • It’s going to take work – I need to keep at it
      • I will be frustrated at the lack of progress at times – I can’t give up
      • I must always imagine what the finished product will look like –I must dream
      • I will make mistakes along the way- I will correct them

What’s the dirt covered marble slab in your life?  How do you release the hidden angels? What tools do you find most helpful?

My new book, Hunger Bites- Bite Size Stories of Inspiration, available for free March 2-3, 2013 on Amazon Kindle.