Anecdotes From Italy Part 2

You might wonder what a discussion of art and architecture has to do with one’s state of being, Alignment and Happy Calories Don’t Count. But hang in there. The “moral of the story” will soon be revealed.

The cupola, or dome, of Florence’s cathedral is an engineering marvel. It is the first dome in history to be built without a temporary wooden frame for support – and arguably Filippo Brunelleschi’s crowning achievement. But if Fate had intervened in a different way, we could be looking at an entirely different dome today.

The Medici family financed much of the Renaissance, and some would claim that they “launched” it. In the early 1400s, Florence was once again struck by a plague. Only this time, amazingly, few Florentines had perished. To give thanks for this miracle, the Medici family sponsored a competition to construct a new set of bronze doors for the Baptistry.

The competition was based on a small bronze panel depicting the biblical story of the Sacrifice of Isaac. The artists submitting panels for the competition needed to show three elements: Abraham and Isaac, the moment of sacrifice, and divine intervention.

The judges had narrowed their selection down to two panels – one created by Brunelleschi and one by Lorenzo Ghiberti. While Ghiberti was chosen the winner, many would argue that Brunelleschi’s panel was artistically “better” and that the judges chose their winner based on financial considerations rather than art – Brunelleschi’s panel required more casting than Ghiberti’s and would therefore cost more to produce.

But did Brunelleschi let this setback defeat him? Absolutely not! He simply switched gears and became an architect! His work includes such masterpieces as the Ospedale degli Innocenti and several chapels and churches, including San Lorenzo and Santo Spirito. Brunelleschi is also credited with discovering linear perspective!

In 1419 Brunelleschi once again entered a competition. This time it was to design and build the dome of the Florence cathedral. Once again, the judges narrowed their selection to two artists – Brunelleschi and Ghiberti. This time Brunelleschi was awarded the job, and the rest is history.

I love this story because it reminds me that no one has the power to “take away our good.” No one can take away our creativity, our passion, or our potential for success regardless of who wins a job. Yes, we may suffer setbacks and disappointment. But when we can feel the pain of rejection and release it, we can come back into Alignment. And when we are in Alignment, the most amazing – and gravity-defying – things can happen.