©Michele L Catanese
Notes: The next post will be on August 13.
Also, a few words on distractions in prayer: Distractions are indeed part of prayer, and if all we seem to do is wrestle with them during any particular prayer time, we should offer these to God, too. He will accept our distractions as much as He will accept prayer which ‘flows easily.’ It is what is in our hearts that matters and it is our time spent with Him which He cherishes, not the ‘quality’ of our prayer. Distractions are not all bad, and in fact, they can help us to understand a lot about ourselves. They can reveal what areas need healing, where our weaknesses lie, what concerns us, what we might struggle with, and even can reveal who and what we love. Therefore, distractions can actually be useful if we pay attention to them.
1. This is a photo of the setting sun which I took in Silverthorne, Colorado. The fiery appearance of the cloud and the mountains made this seem like a fitting choice given that fire and cloud are Old Testament symbols for the presence of God's Spirit (Shekinah). The image also made me think of the fiery whirlwind which took Elijah into Heaven.
2. This is an icon by Fr. William Hart McNichols called Holy Prophet Elijah. It depicts the raven feeding Elijah at the beginning of his ministry in 1 Kings 17, (specifically verses 4-6). I like that Fr. Bill painted Elijah as a younger man with dark hair and confess to this being an inspiration for some of my thoughts on Elijah. You can find this icon at http://frbillmcnichols-sacredimages.com/featured/holy-prophet-elijah-009-william-hart-mcnichols.html.
3. This painting by Gustav Klimt called Apple Tree (1912) seemed to fit here for a lot of reasons. The first is that one has to be quite attentive to this painting in order to see where the tree begins and the flowers in the surrounding grass end. In other words, one has to spend time learning to discern 'what is what' in the painting. It also spoke to me of the bounty with which God nourishes us, not just through food, but by spiritual nourishment which comes to us through the graces with which He feeds our souls. You can find more description of this painting at http://www.reproduction-tableaux.fr/produit/klimt-pommier/
4. In a completely different style and period of history, this is a painting by Tintoretto called Elijah Fed by the Angel. (1577-78) This is a depiction of Elijah in the desert just after he prayed for death, when God sent His angel who fed Elijah so that he had the strength to make it to Mt. Horeb where he was told that God would meet him. Again, I love that Elijah was painted as a younger man: his hair is brown, and if one looks really closely, one can decide if he even has a beard. (I cannot detect one, and if so, I suspect it is not to denigrate his wisdom, but to give a sense of his vigor, which is now seemingly stretched to the limit.) You can find this painting at https://wga.hu/html_m/t/tintoret/3b/2upper/1/ and also at https://wga.hu/support/viewer_m/z.html.
5. I took this photo of a rock under water in a crystal clear river in Colorado. I chose to use it here as a symbol of our need to be transparent with God. Transparency may make us feel vulnerable, but when we are empowered by the Holy Spirit, and truly try to follow His movements, our transparency is what enables us to live prophetically. People will see God and His message through our words and deeds, even when we do small things.
6. This is a photo I took at the shoreline in Matagorda, Texas. This plover was running into and then out of the surf in what looked like a funny dance, but was actually its way of finding food. I chose to use it here, however, because the bird had to know when to be led into the water and when to move away from the powerful surf: it is an example of discernment as we seek to know whether something is moving us toward God or away from Him. And of course, we choose what moves us toward Him.
7. Finally, this image of the Holy Spirit is an inset from a larger icon by Fr. William Hart McNichols. He calls it Viriditas - Holy Spirit Detail. You can find it at http://frbillmcnichols-sacredimages.com/featured/viriditas-holy-spirit-detail-william-hart-mcnichols.html.
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