Let Art Nurture Your Soul

March 17, 2021
By Rev. Dr. John J. Duling

I was guiding a spiritual direction session with a directee (that is the name for someone who meets with a spiritual director) in a fellowship room of the church where he served as a pastor.  It was a Zoom session and behind the directee was a painting of three men overlooking a valley from the top of a view point.  The sun was rising to greet the new day.  The valley was waking up after an evening rest. 

The three men in the painting were positioned, as if distanced 6 feet apart!  

  • On the far right a man is kneeling with face down in a very sober, repentant spirit as if he were saying, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner,” like the publican would say in his prayer to God. (Luke 18:13)
  • In the middle of the painting is a man standing, but head bowed and arms stretched out to his side, much like the inviting Christ Who would invite one to “come unto me.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
  • On the very far left is a man standing with his arms stretched above his head in an expression of praise, like “This is the day that the Lord is making (my translation), let us be glad and rejoice in it!” (Psalm 118:24-26).  This translation is based on some work from the Dead Sea Scrolls which make the verse very current – that God continues to create and make the day that is yet to play out in one’s life.

In each of these poses, the painting leaves the impression that this is a way to greet each new day – first in a prayer for mercy; second in a prayer of receptivity for the Lord to come into one’s life; and third in a prayer of praise to anticipate the wonders that God will bring to each person for the new day.

Amazing things can be seen when meditating on a picture of faith or an icon that opens as a window to the Divine.  Things to take away for the reader are in my encounter with the Divine through the painting of the three persons in prayer.  Another take away would be an invitation to see the Divine through a picture, art, an icon or possibly through words that speak God’s word to you in a hymn, a poem, a devotion, or some other expression of the Divine’s presence to you. 

God is present when we listen, notice, and receive God.  

To God be the glory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Rev. Dr. John Duling, Certified Spiritual Director

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