Lately I’ve been thinking that maybe Michelangelo got it wrong.
In the Renaissance master’s famous fresco depicting creation, he painted a big masculine God—one whose very fingertip seemingly brims with energy and influence. You wouldn’t overlook a tap on the shoulder from this God. His is a finger of tremendous vigor and authority.
Michelangelo’s image contrasts sharply with the God-moment I experienced earlier this week, when I cradled my infant granddaughter in my arms. Her baby finger is a work of art, too, I noticed: Incredibly small, yet exquisitely detailed—complete with a translucent nail almost too tiny to see.
I was touched by the beauty of God’s handiwork in that moment…and reminded that this is often how God seems to work in our world: Subtly, softly—touching our lives and hearts with tremendous potential… but choosing, too, to let that potential unfold over time, without needing to force things along or control every detail.
The Gospel story we heard at Mass today provides an echo of that same divine energy. Mark reports that Jesus blesses a paralytic by telling him ‘your sins are forgiven.’ Jesus does that before he tells the man to walk…almost as if Jesus sees something in the man that no one else can see. Almost as if he’s giving the man permission, not just to walk—but to become something bigger and better than he ever imagined himself to be.
God typically has a soft touch, it seems to me. God provides openings for us—not detailed road maps. God gives us well-formed fingers, and then is delighted to discover how we learn over time to use those fingers to bring our own personal measure of beauty into the world.
Today, I celebrate one of those ‘soft-touch’ moments in my own life. It’s the 39th anniversary of the day that Gerri and I met in the dorm cafeteria at SLU. A chance encounter, really. And yet, I’ve come to see it – and to know her – as one of the most profound blessings I’ve ever experienced.
Even the most ordinary of moments, it seems, can become a creation moment—as long as our hearts are open to that possibility. And it helps, I suppose, if we’re on the lookout for a God with a soft touch.