Life Lessons from Italy 02 // Shut Your Mouth in the Presence of Greatness


In the fall of 2013, Steph and I visited Florence, Italy.  We took in the sites and visited our oldest daughter, Mariah.  We had a fantastic week and I left with some valuable life lessons.  Here is one of those lessons.

One morning in Italy we made the trek through the cobblestone streets of Florence and arrived at The Accademia (one of Florence’s museums).  Inside The Accademia stands one of the word’s greatest statues – Michelangelo’s David.  Created between 1501 and 1504, David stands 17 feet tall and is carved out of solid marble.  To say I was in awe was an understatement.  Steph and I stood and stared in disbelief at the life-like statue.  Later Steph told me that she actually started to tear up.  No surprise.  In that moment we were aware that we were in the presence of greatness.  Knowing some history of Michelangelo’s David commands a certain respect.  Consider . . .

  • David is carved from a single piece of stone.
  • In order to learn the anatomy and proportions of the human body, Michelangelo would study cadavers with great intensity.
  • Michelangelo was considered one the greatest artists of his time and one of the greatest artists in history.
  • It took Michelangelo more than two years to carve David.
  • In 2008 there was talk of isolating the statue of David so that the vibration of visitors footsteps would not harm the statue.
  • The value of David is widely said to be “priceless.”  No amount of money would equal the value of David.

photo by Bjørn Giesenbauer

Here we were staring at one of the world’s greatest sculptures by one of the world’s greatest artists.  It was breathtaking.  However, during our visit something unique happened.  The museum was full of people who were talking and laughing.  As the sound level rose, we heard one the museum staff as loud as he could, “SHHHHHHHHHHHHH!   SHHHHHHHHHHH!  SHHHHHHHHHHHH!”   The crowd (finally) fell silent.  If the staff person were able to speak his mind, he may have said something like, “Excuse me.  Do you have any idea where you are?  Shut.  Your.  Mouth.  You are in the presence of greatness.”

God said a similar thing. “Be still and know that I am God . . . ” – Psalm 46:10

Maybe we would do well to shut our mouths in the presence of God.  Go for a walk in the woods. Shut off the phone.   Shut your mouth.  You are in the presence of greatness.

Turn off the TV and rock the baby to sleep silently.  Shut your mouth, you are in the presence of greatness.

Ask your daughter to tell you about the good and bad in her day.  Shut your mouth and listen.  You are in the presence of greatness.

Turn off the radio.  Silence the cell phone.  Look around.  Shut your mouth.  You are in the presence of greatness.

Be still.

You are in the presence of greatness.

Have you ever experienced the greatness of God?  Share your story below.



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One thought on “Life Lessons from Italy 02 // Shut Your Mouth in the Presence of Greatness

  1. Scot, What an amazing experience!!!!!! We live in a noisy world. Many times it is hard to even quiet our mind….When and if we can and we place our thoughts on Him, he shows up and satisfies us in a way that nothing in the world can…We need to be better listeners than noise makers…..Mom