Prayer/ Meditation - Prayer of the He(Art)

Moving from the head to the heart

Trust is not a head thing.  It’s a heart thing.  

So how can prayer help us to move from our head and into our heart where we can let go of our need to control and begin to surrender to the love and wisdom of the Divine?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    don’t rely on your own intelligence.
Know him in all your paths,
    and he will keep your ways straight.  - Proverbs 3:5-6 

For many of us art, music, poetry awaken the stirrings of our heart.  Lectio Divina or “Sacred Reading” is a form of prayer that utilizes the imagination when reading sacred texts.  As St. Benedict said, “to pray the Lectio is to listen with the ear of the heart.”  But there are other ways to engage “divina.”  Meditating on music or visual art can stir the heart and awaken us to the love and magnificence of God

How can we not be moved by the God who created Puccinni or Rembrandt?  Oftentimes poets are able to make visible the hidden mystery through the perfect economy of image and language.  Is God not there in a line of Maya Angelou’s poetry?

In Russell Brand’s book, Recovery, Brand describes how easy it was for him to come to accept “a God of my own understanding” because things exist like Mozart and the Sistine Chapel. There’s so much big-ness that point us towards the Great Mystery.

So choose a piece of music, art or poetry that connects you to the Beauty and Mystery of God’s presence.  There are links to a few options below but feel free to choose your own.  

  1. Listen, View, Read it just for information first. (the head part of the prayer)

  2. Next listen, view, read again. If you’re listening perhaps close your eyes.  If you are viewing perhaps stand back or come closer.  If you are reading, perhaps slow down and linger on an image. (moving into meditating on the piece and into your heart)

  3. Listen, View, Read one last time.  This time allow your heart to be moved by the beauty of the piece knowing that God is the ultimate Artist/Creator.  That the feelings you are now experiencing is an annunciation of sorts.  The Holy Spirit, the Go-Between God, announcing an incarnation of the Holy set before you.  (moving into Contemplation of the Holy)

  4. Lastly, remember that all Truth is God’s truth and all Beauty comes from God and so whether something is “religious” art has little to do with our experience of it.  

    If you need a little help finding pieces to use I’ve collected just a few: 

    Anne Sexton Small Wire” (poem)
    Nikki Giovanni Mothers” (poem)
    Marie Howe The Star Market” (poem)
    Rita Dove Heart to Heart” (poem)
    Mary Oliver Starlings in Winter” (poem)

    Scott Erickson Teach Us to Pray” (iconography and lessons on VisioDivina)
    Rothko Chapel” (architecture and painting)