Category Archives: art

In the moment

Harry Fenn (1845-1911)
Caesarea Philippi (Banias)
Watercolor, gouache, brown ink, and graphite on light brown wove paper
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Even the low times contain a stillpoint of joy. The Lord is right there in the moment. I do not walk alone.

Gracious is the Lord and just;
yes, our God is merciful.
The Lord keeps the little ones;
I was brought low, and he saved me.
Psalm 116:5-6

Impediments

Meister von Müstair
Heilung des Taubstummen
fresco, ca.830
Müstair (Schweiz), Klosterkirche St. Johann

Sometimes I cannot hear the Lord’s call to love my neighbor, forgive those who hurt me, and befriend the poor. It’s not that I willfully oppose the Lord’s call, but that I am afflicted in the moment with anxiety, depression, physical pain, or other distracting states of mind and being.

May I forgive myself for my human imperfections and pray that the impediments that prevent me from hearing, speaking, and acting on the Good News of love and healing be removed.

[Jesus] said to him, “Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” —And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. Mark 7:34-35

In trust

Jan Luyken
Eating with Unwashed Hands
Etching from the Phillip Medhurst Collection of Bible illustrations housed at Belgrave Hall, Leicester, England
By Phillip Medhurst [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

Life experiences can be overwhelming, stressful, and undermining, but they are not a reflection of who we are. We are God’s beloved daughters and sons. Nothing will ever change God’s love for us.

Today I will thank God for loving me. When adversity enters my life, I will trust God is with me, and respond with courage, forgiveness, and compassion.

He summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” Mark 7:14-15

Real work

Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov (1806-1858)
People Gather Manna
via Wikimedia Commons

A job may earn me money, but my real work is learning to love—at home, in the workplace, in the community, those I know, those I have never met.

Today my work is to practice compassion, patience, forgiveness, generosity, gratitude, nonviolence, and reverence for all of God’s creation. My never-failing mentor is the Lord.

[Jesus said,] “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” ” John 6:27

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