Are you hoping to hear from God in unexpected ways in the New Year?
“Sacred Seeing” with religious art can be a ladder of prayer into God’s presence. As we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, we offer a meditation on the Epiphany image from the Church of the Transfiguration, which begins the fresco series on the clerestory walls that depict the major events in the life of Christ.
Henri Nouwen once said that it was important for him to look at art with his ‘heart’s eye’ and some images helped him to pray when he had no words of his own.
Contemplating a visual image of a well-known Bible story, like the arrival of the Magi, can bring spiritual truths into your heart in a way that goes beyond words.
Some thoughts and questions to ponder about the image below
The infant Jesus is radiant, with light emanating from behind him. The star, almost at the center of the image is the other bright element, shining ten times brighter than any other star in the sky.
What connection does the fresco make between the light of the star and the light of the child?
The Magi bow down and give their treasures to Jesus. Humble worship is presented here as the antithesis of sin. Perhaps this explains why worship can be such work and why it can bring us such blessing.
Look at the hand gesture of the infant Jesus, who seems to be reaching out like any baby might. But, is he reaching out to touch what is being offered, or is it to touch the hand of the one giving?
Heavenly Father, you sent the Gift of your only Son, infinite love incarnate, descending to dwell among us.
By many and various lights, you have drawn and led me into his presence,
And as I remember each of them, I give you thanks.
Now, here before the radiant grace of your Son, I blow my own heart in humble praise.
What I have, I offer to him in adoring gratitude, And wait for the touch of his hand upon my soul.
A WORD FROM THE TRADITION
“He who enriches others becomes poor. He took to himself the poverty of my flesh so that I might obtain the riches of his godhead. He who is full empties himself. He emptied himself of his Godhead for a brief time so that I might share in his fullness. What is this wealth of goodness? What is this mystery that touches me? — Gregory of Nazianzus (330-389)
— From Sacred Seeing – Praying with the Frescoes in the Church of the Transfiguration