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Faith Through Art

May Our Hearts and Minds Wonder With the Glory of God

“There are people who pray for eternal life and don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday,” wrote G.K. Chesterton. We can all see the humor in this comment, and we can all see the truth. Our spirituality grows in the mundane, every day and ordinary, not just in church. We pray “on earth as it is in Heaven,” but do we believe it and act out of that belief? This life is part of eternal life!

In both Lectio Divina and Visio Divina, we sit in meditation with either Scripture or a work of art and discern what God is saying to us. The Gospel of John opens with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Word here is not a written or verbal expression of a thought, but ultimately, the universe as an expression of God’s love. The universe is our “Master’s piece” of art.

In “Aurora Leigh,” Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote “Earth is crammed with Heaven, and every common bush afire with God; but only he who sees takes off his shoes, the rest sit round and pluck blackberries.” We need to look deeper into our lives to see God’s art and start going barefoot!

So how do we practice meditation with our lives? It would be exhausting and impossible to meditate continuously, but we can begin practices and develop habits that facilitate the occasional endeavor. It takes effort to see the divine image everywhere – in ourselves, in others as well as in all things.

It is important to find what works for each of us because the practice that works for me, may not work for you. Find ways that spark a holy curiosity and that help you see Christ in others and keep God as the focus of your life. Find ways that cultivate an awareness of God’s presence in your life.

Remember, what works now may not work in the future, so pay attention and adapt as your awareness of yourself and of God grows.

Some examples include praying every time you put on or take off your seat belt, spending time every day appreciating nature, or saying “Here I am, Lord” as you awake each morning. Never forget Jesus’ humanity – interact with someone during your day as if they were Christ. Throw your shoes under the bed so that in the morning, while on your knees retrieving them, you can begin your day with a prayer. For 15 minutes of your day, work in a deliberate spirit of service. Each day intentionally co-create something with God – a piece of toast, a flower arrangement or a moment with your pet.

In our home, we have the word “Wonder” carved in the lintel above our staircase, so that when we go down (out into the world) we are reminded to have a child-like appreciation of God’s creation. Every act we do with the intention of seeing and participating in God’s kingdom on earth is a meditation.

St. Augustine was right when he prayed, “Lord, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Mark Landers is a parishioner of St. Austin Parish in Austin and a member of the Diocesan Fine Arts Council. He and his wife, Christina, own and operate Landers’ Studio, a woodworking shop and design studio. They design and construct custom furniture and high quality architectural piecework.