Apr 24, 2015

Sacred Whispers in the Storm

Opaque heavens have shed rain with vigor in recent days. Out back, quiet streams swell to roaring rivers of sorely needed water. The flow works its way further along, gushing down rocky falls. I stand on the walkers bridge where the path crosses an engorged waterfall. The whir and spill of its hum muffles the racket of an over active mind. My thoughts are carried away along with the natural debris as currents continue to wind and crash downstream. 

The emptied mind opens space for the whispers of Holy Spirit, 
like the welcome rain cooled breezes that follow a storm. 
The air is oxygen rich, 
the Spirit whisper is sacred and equally life giving.  

Standing there above the powerful cascade of water,
I reminisce over the ravages … that my life’s storms left behind…
The indelible marks of flooding water and destructive winds are still felt on my heart.  
Yet I stand here today, despite the scars and markings of tumultuous events, 
because Holy Spirit whispers 
have always been present, 
pouring life giving strength into my soul.

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Linking with the communities at Still Saturday, Weekend Brew, and Tell His Story.

Apr 15, 2015

Art & Spiritual Vitality

Faith filled living, for some of us, includes the visual arts. 
Images in every medium speak deeply to the soul, often in surprising ways 
as understandings are revealed to the conscious mind that might have been inaccessible through any other exploration.

Whether it includes enjoying the breathtaking beauty of church sanctuaries, gazing intently at creation’s many majesties, studying the composition of stunning art forms, or numerous other modalities; vision and visual art forms have long been a means of spiritual  contemplation. For myself, in recent years, that inclination has been expanded to embrace creating visual images through photography, painting, and visual journaling as a faith practice. In tandem with a slow progression into the arts I searched for writings about this realm of contemplative practice, arriving, in part, to the works of those quoted here.

“In an aesthetic experience, in the creation or the contemplation of a work of art, the psychological conscience is able to attain some of its highest and most perfect fulfillments. Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. The mind  that responds to the intellectual and spiritual values that lie hidden in a poem, a painting, or a piece of music, discovers a spiritual vitality that lifts it above itself, takes it out of itself, and makes it present to itself on a level of being that it did not know it could ever achieve.” p. 34, No Man Is an Island written by Thomas Merton, Trappist Monk.

Merton so aptly describes what I have so often experienced myself, how an experience with art, in a multitude of formats, can lead one to a heightened sense of faith and closeness to God. Photography too, offers precious opportunities for walking more intimately with God, as writer Christine Valters Paintner describes in Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice …

“… one of the wonders of photography [is] to be able to frame a moment in time and, within my gazing absolute presence in that particular moment, discover holiness.” (p.5)… Photography can be an act of silent worship. When we see the world with “eyes of the heart”, we can engage in an act of both reverence and self-expression. We can discover how the living Spirit is being revealed in the world.” p.8

Paintner borrows the lyrical phrase “eyes of the heart” from Ephesians 1:18. It is a phrase that Paul uses in his letter to the people of Ephesus. Paul tells the people that he prays for them, in part, so that they will “have the eyes of their hearts enlightened” by the wisdom of the Spirit and the power of God. 

Working with inks, papers, paints, digital photography 
and the printed Word; 
is practicing the spiritual discipline of seeking enlightenment 
through God’s power and the Spirit’s sacred wisdom.

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This post is linked with the online communities of Still Saturday, Weekend Brew, and Playdates With God. Join us for more thoughts on the pursuit of Sabbath and the experience of God moments in daily living.