When we emerge from sexual dysfunction into health, we are like a sculptor who see, in a formless block of marble, the shape of something beautiful and desired. When we work on ourselves, we chip away at what has hidden our beauty and desirability from view. As Stephanie Urbina Jones sings: "I am chiseling out my soul like Michelangelo. Found my spirit in the stone, I am chiseling out my soul."
If we are able to be the artist of our personhood, we must first connect to the fullness of who we are. Because of our traumatic histories, we have been entombed; we need to break out from that which blocks the expression of our capacity for relational intimacy, so that we can connect to our partners and to a power greater than ourselves.
Michelangelo released the figures entombed within the marble; the sculptor liberates the image latent in the stone. that liberated image is what we often call "the authentic self." The authentic self is the precious gift of who we are, restored to us by chiseling out the soul from its entombment in trauma-induced sickness.
A second image comes from a novelty shop in Florence, Italy. The shop sells replicas of Michelangelo's unfinished sculptures. The caption on the bottom reads, "Be patient; God isn't finished with me yet." This tells us that the search for self is a process and that chiseling the soul is the artistic goal of the spiritual life.