Art: Week 1 Summary

Art: Week 1

Summary: Sunday, May 13-Friday, May 18, 2018

Our divine DNA carries the creative impulse of the Creator. Even if you don’t consider yourself creative or artistic, it is an inherent part of your being. (Sunday)

Perhaps, like the prophetic mystics of all traditions, the great artists of each generation can help us transcend our dualisms and move us beyond the exclusionary frameworks that are comfortable for us . . . if we have the ears to hear or the eyes to see and the willingness to engage! (Monday)

One person, symbol, or idea can set the course of history and its meaning in one direction instead of another. We recognize some individuals who “turn” history, art, music, and politics in new and unimagined ways. Picasso did this for painting, Martha Graham and Michael Jackson did the same for dance, and Einstein did it for physics and cosmology. (Tuesday)

Art and contemplation lead us to wonder, but first they perplex us. Mature spiritual leaders make room for and welcome the prophetic—the challenging, new, and unexpected—even while holding onto the essentials of our wisdom traditions. (Wednesday)

Art can amplify the sacred and challenge the status quo. The arts help us to hear above the cacophony and pause in the midst of our multitasking. The arts engage a sacred frequency that is perforated with pauses. —Barbara Holmes (Thursday)

The power of imagination and art is at the level of soul, where we do not consciously know what is happening. Therefore, we cannot engineer it, do not need to understand it, nor can we fully stop its effects! (Friday)

 

Practice: Visio Divina

The imagination works through suggestion, not description. Description is always direct and frequently closes off what it names. Suggestion respects the mystery and richness of a thing. All it offers are clues to its nature. Suggestion keeps the mystery open and extends us the courtesy of inviting us to see the thing for ourselves. It offers us the hospitality and freedom to trust the integrity of our own encounter with a thing. This is how a work of art can allow itself to be seen in so many different and often conflicting ways. It does not foreclose on the adventure of revelation. —John O’Donohue [1]

Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler offers a wonderful invitation into visio divina (or sacred seeing). I invite you to use the image for this week’s meditations, at the top of this message, as a window into your own soul and the Divine.

Visio Divina facilitates a relationship with an image or subject, patiently being with it, receptive in mind and heart, perhaps even in dialogue with it. In stillness, we allow the image to reach beyond the intellect and into the unconscious level of our being, a place that can’t be accessed directly. In wonder, we are invited to look at every aspect of an image and ponder it as an encounter with God. It is a way of seeing an aspect of ourselves in God at the non-verbal, heart level. The canvas then becomes alive with personal meaning meant just for us. This is the same movement of the Spirit we can experience with Lectio Divina and Scripture.

Take the time to gaze at an image and allow it to speak to you, first on the level of what is seen with the eyes of your rational mind, the literal details of the image. When you are ready, allow those sights and thoughts to pass by, making space for the inner eye of the heart to open and interact with the image. You may wish to sketch the image and experience your own non-verbal response. You do not have to be an artist to do this—you simply follow the lines as you see them, tracing them on paper. Or, you may trace the image with your finger, or both. Be patient. Stay with your experience. Settle in and rest in the presence of the image. See beyond seeing and allow the image to speak its truth to you. You may also journal, and/or use these questions to inspire your reflections: How does this image inform or illume your relationship with God? How does it speak to you of your spiritual journey now? How does this experience support your willingness to be opened, to be healed?

References:
[1] John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace (HarperCollins: 2004), 147-148.

Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler, “The Practice of Visio Divina: Seeing with the Eye of the Heart,” Contemplative Outreach News, vol. 31, no. 2 (2015), 2-3, https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/sites/default/files/newsletter-pdf/2015-june-newsletter.pdf

For Further Study:
Barbara A. Holmes, Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church, second edition (Fortress Press: 2017)

John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace (HarperCollins: 2004)

Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014)

Leonard Shlain, Art and Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light (William Morrow Paperbacks: 2007)

Richard Rohr and Friends, Contemplation in Action (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2006)

Image credit: Composition VIII (detail), Wassily Kandinsky, 1923, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, New York.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The power of imagination and art is at the level of soul, where we do not consciously know what is happening. Therefore, we cannot engineer it, do not need to understand it, nor can we fully stop its effects! —Richard Rohr

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