IlluminationI’ve never done much to focus on my sense of sight when I pray.  In part this is because I’m easily distracted by visual things. I’m the one who is looking around the sanctuary during the sermon and probably several other times throughout the service. I’m paying attention but things catch my eye.

I’m just as bad when I pray.

If I’m sitting on the sofa facing the front window and someone walks down the sidewalk, I look to see who it is.  Do they have their dog with them today?  If I’m sitting on the other end of the sofa looking into the backyard and a bird lands, I wonder what kind it is.

I spend most of my prayer time trying to not be distracted by one visual or another.  Maybe that’s why it never crossed my mind to try doing something art related when I pray.  But using art in prayer was the topic of this week’s lesson so the entire class gave it a try.

We discussed icons and other religious art.  We brought in art that we have in our homes that we find inspirational in time of prayer.  But we also discussed drawing while we pray.  Possibilities mentioned in the class literature included mandalas, scribble art, illuminated text and drawing a prayer picture book.

I didn’t have a great deal of hope that this would be a raving success because, stop me if you’ve heard this, visual things often distract me. But I sat down to illuminate the prayer of Columba of Iona.

First, I focused on the big B that begins each of the first four lines.  I drew and colored as I tried to still my mind, or at least slow things down a bit.  Then I lettered the prayer as a whole.  This was tough for me because I did calligraphy years ago. This meant having to let go of some perfectionist tendencies because I quickly spotted problems with my letting technique.  But then I got into the drawing, first inking outlines and then coloring in flames, a star and a smooth path through a rocky plain.

Once I got the lettering done, I can’t say that I focused on the words of the prayer itself, but I did find myself contemplating something that’s been bothering me.  It wasn’t something that I meant to focus on but it was several things had happened this weekend to push it to the front of my heart once again.

Was this a success?  I wouldn’t say that I had an epiphany – it was a bit gentle for that.  But I feel like I have a bit more insight on things.  This is definitely something that I am going to try again and it will be interesting to see where it takes me the next time around.

–SueBE

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