30 April 2011

From stone to flesh: my heart for God

I felt very blessed over the first Holy Week since my transformation in faith, to spend lots of time (5.5 days!) in silence - bonding with God... so to speak! In the lush green hilltops and valleys of North Wales was the stunning Ignatian retreat centre: St. Bueno's. It was my first introduction to Ignatian Spirituality, and I wish to share just a little something of my prayer whilst I was there. If you have ever encountered Ignatian Spirituality before, you'll discover that there is a heavy emphasis on Imaginative Contemplation... i.e. expressing what is in your mind and heart creatively to God by bringing something in your imagination to life in prayer. So for example, you could read the Word of God, and imagine yourself in the scenario/verses that you're focusing on as a prayer. Or you could look at sacred art, and imagine yourself as one of the characters as a prayer.

I like to dabble in design, and really do enjoy it because design is logical - and it's one of the only ways I comfortably exercise that part of me. Art, however, is free. It takes talent given from the Holy Spirit above to do either of these things. I clearly wasn't gifted with talent in art... as you'll see! In fact, I can openly say that I suck beans at art! I admire those who are gifted with this beautiful form of expression - I hope they are able to use it to make a difference in this world. For but a few hours, the freedom in art afforded me expression in my prayer, and a reflection that I wouldn't have been able to find in the restrictions of design. Please forgive the poor art... I include the part of my diary entry for Easter Sunday which explains my prayer so that anyone reading this can see what things are meant to symbolise.

As my evening prayer was expressed in the form of art, I headed to the art room to let the Lord know how I feel. For a few hours, the thing I have been most rejoicing about (concerning myself... as I rejoice more that He is risen!) is that my heart of stone has truly become a heart of flesh. I first perused all the available mediums in the art room. I'm not an artist - so I marveled at all the wonderful things that could be used. I imagined attempting to use the oils, or the acrylics - but although they would have a beautiful appearance, I couldn't do them justice. So as I perused longer, discovering all sorts of materials from card, to metal grilling, clay to wool and sequined material, I knew when I set eyes on it that the right medium for me was going to be the finger paint! Why? Because this was going to be my prayer! I did not want a brush to come between me and my prayer. Although spiritual, my prayer is also tangible to me - my prayer life is alive and kicking! And I wanted to feel, and be physically connected to my prayer all the way through. That, and the picture on the paint pots [of hand and foot prints!) seemed to appeal to me in their kiddiness than any of the other 'maturer' mediums.

So without planning what on earth I was about to finger-paint, I just started mixing white and red for a flesh-like colour. [My diary extract becomes a little personal here, so I'll skip to the next bit!]
Anyway, I kept on with the heart [I had started], and when I accidentally dipped my finger into the red paint, and put it over the flesh colour, it brought the flesh colour more to life - and I started to believe that what I was praying was a need to tell God that I am human, and that I bleed (lose life) when I sin. Then I noticed that God is not yet in my picture. But if I portrayed God in the way I would have liked, then the whole sheet would just be covered in yellow! I started to circle a yellow blob above my heart - because God was before me as you look down the page, things pretty much happen in chronological order). The yellow blob expanded out and down. The green 'bushes' came next - the rise higher than my heart because creation (the product of God) was before me. And then, I remembered the passage that I have read twice publicly in the space of a week: Ezekiel 36:16-28. My heart of stone was made into a heart of flesh. I needed to somehow portray this [it's a passage I have honestly fallen in love with, along with many others]. I began mixing black and white to make a grey. I covered the top of my heart with the grey - attempting to make it as 'blocky' or 'square' as possible (which clearly didn't work :P). I wanted to tell God that the pieces of stone are falling away and that as long as I am here on earth my heart of flesh has tangible access to His divine love.

I looked at the image and realised that the stone was a complete barrier between God and my heart of flesh, so I painted what I felt to be a simple reflection of my conversion, when He burst into my life with His Light, Love, Peace and all things good. The explosion appears to be a small one in my big heart, but that is an understatement of my real experience. A direct link of yellow connects God outside my heart and God inside my heart. Although in reality my heart was filled to overflowing with Him the moment of my conversion, it wasn't an everlasting experience (which would be the case should God grant me favour at the time of my death and allow me to share in his heavenly banquet in communion with all who are holy) so it is fitting, in a sense, that the light still has that potential to grow within me.

Lastly, in kicks the blue. My prayer to God here, is that He uses me to bear fruit in whatever way He wants. The blue drops coming down from my heart reflect the life of Jesus that I wish to share with others. Mixed with some of those blue drops are yellow, because I pray that the Holy Spirit is present in all my ministry, living, acts and words. These drops of Holy life fall into a divine stream - full of eternal life - because that is where I pray I would lead others. In Christ's living water is the Truth, the Way and the Life - and I pray that any fruit I bear will also revere God's Holy name, and become alive in Him.

I titled it: From stone to flesh, my heart for God.

1 comment:

J.Co said...

This life is full of symbol... All of them have their meaning and message. In this rapid life, sometimes we miss to listen or peruse the message behind all that symbols. That's why, we need time of silence to be connected with all of this truth. Claz, thanks for share this 'high top amazing' art. Art is whatever beautiful coming from heart in connection with the LIFE. God bless... :)