We have ways of categorizing our lives. We like to think of things in terms of spiritual, physical, creative, sexual, intellectual, etc. But if we are to be integrative people that are searching for wholeness, don't these specifics bleed into the general? Don't our creative lives bleed into our intellectual lives, which bleed into our spiritual lives which bleed into the physical and psychological, etc, etc? The more integrative we become, the less these lines are fast and hard. When the Word became flesh, the spiritual and the physical became one in such a profound way. We can no longer think about things in black and white, rigid definitions.
Nothing has brought this home more for me than the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius. St. Ignatius of Loyola was a Spanish monk who lived in the 16th century. He introduced a way of praying through the gospels that uses the imagination to “live” in the scenes presented there. With the imagination, one enters the scene, paying attention to the physical attributes of the text. Who is there? What does it sound like, look like, smell like, taste like, feel like? Is it outside? What’s the weather like? Who’s talking? What are they saying? What are the emotions that are present? The person praying inserts themselves into the scene – perhaps as a character, or a bystander – and observes and interacts.
I decided last year, with so many powerful scenes and experiences through that kind of prayer that I would attempt to depict some of the images and scenes that I have been a part of in my imagination with Jesus.
I am intrigued with the marital language that Jesus chooses to use in scripture when He talks about the church. Over and over, He paints a picture of a bride and groom when He talks about His beloved people. In 2010, I was able to travel to Italy and see the Bernini sculpture of Teresa of Avila, where she is depicted in a romantic encounter with the Divine, which fascinated me. Through my experience of prayer, I am exploring this mystery of bridal love with the Divine. I am excited to put some of these scenes onto the canvas.
This piece depicts the day that Jesus and His disciples are in the wheat field, picking the heads of grain. The Pharisees come and chide Him, since it is the Sabbath. The first thing that strikes me, as a bystander in the field, is the freedom with which the disciples move in the presence of Jesus. Clearly, they feel at ease with Him and not worried that they may offend Him by breaking the “rules”. I respond in kind to His invitation as He opens His arms to embrace me. I feel His kindness even as he responds to the Pharisees by saying that His original intent for the Sabbath is for our rest, not so we can keep more rules. And in His embrace, all peripheral characters fade away. In this particular piece, that becomes important and thus, I chose not to include any other figures in the piece.