Category Archives: art

Afflicted

James Tissot (1836-1902)
L’hémoroïsse
opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
between 1886 and 1894
Brooklyn Museum

Rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, dyslexia, migraine, alcoholism, glaucoma, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness: affliction is a part of the human condition.

Through no fault of our own, our genes and bodies and minds have been wired for our particular afflictions. And while we may seek mainstream medical solutions and traditional therapies to help us cope, some afflictions don’t go away.

Afflictions do not make us unworthy of God’s love, or “less than” as human persons. We are made in the image of God’s love and goodness—and nothing can change that.

Our most important work is not to figure out why we are afflicted, but to reach out in humility to touch the Lord and ask for compassion and healing in whatever form they may manifest: mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual.

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Mark 5:25-29

The work of today

The Birth of St. John the Baptist
Spain, ca.1525
Gilded wood
Art Institute of Chicago

My daily work is to show up for life, treat all people with compassion, generosity, and respect, take care of today’s responsibilities, and help manifest God’s vision of peace, unity, and love in our fragile world.

Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, yet my reward is with the LORD, my recompense is with my God. Isaiah 49:4

In need

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Landscape with Flock of Sheep
oil on canvas, 1889 and 1902
Norton Simon Museum

Today I am especially in need of the gentle guidance and tender care of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. I am grateful for his kind attention.

May I be gentle, tender, and kind towards others, too, for they may also be in need of compassion.

Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11

Clean and whole

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)
Jesus heals a leper
Pen and ink drawing, c. 1650-1655
Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet

So much conspires to tell me I am an outcast in this society: unemployment, chronic headaches, overwhelming fatigue, and the ever-accelerating pace and stress of modern life when what I crave is time—time to go slowly, to rest, listen, and discern God’s will for me.

When I become aware that I am feeling ashamed of who I am, I pray to be reunited with the unconditional love and compassion that is my birthright. The Lord is always willing to touch me and make me whole again.

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.”

Helped up

Rembrandt (1606-1669)
Christ Healing Peter’s Mother-in-Law
pen and wash, circa 1650-1660

Jesus is always at home to those who need healing. He enters our personal space to touch us, make us whole, and help us get back on our feet so that we may continue to use our gifts and talents to serve others.

May I be willing to show up at the Lord’s door to ask for his grace and guidance. May I invite him to enter my mind, heart, and soul.

On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John… When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. Mark 1:29, 32-33

At home

With deepest reverence, we recognize each other as a holy home where God’s Holy Spirit—a harmonious presence of love, wisdom, and guidance—dwells.

We live entwined with God’s healing Spirit. We do not fear loneliness.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19

Kindness will not be forgotten

Rembrandt (1606-1669)
The Prophetess Anna in the Temple, 1646 or 1650

May I welcome the new year in holy stillness, with the hope and intention each day to be God’s messenger of love, peace, and kindness.

Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another. Colossians 3:12-13a