~ Advent One ~
deep peace of the
running wave to you
Welcome to Advent 2023. This year we are bringing you a new prayer practice, rooted in ancient ways. Music and art for your reflection and nourishment.
Praying with our eyes through reading texts (lectio divina) has a long history in Christian practice. For this season, we invite you to the practice of praying with your eyes through art. Visio divina is a way of contemplative meditation that invites a sacred image to lead you in reflection and take you beyond the image to the presence of the holy. Orthodox Christians have been praying with icons for centuries. Services in Orthodox churches are a full feast for the senses.
This season we invite encounters with the holy through A Gaelic Blessing in written and musical form. Each week of Advent and Christmas, we are bringing together one line of the blessing, a musical rendition composed by John Rutter (in some cases arranged by others), and an abstract painting by pastoral artist, Julia Goldie Day. My prayer is that words, music, and the image each week will be a feast for your senses, taking you into a holy space of peace and love.
I believe all times, places, and objects, when we behold them with attention to love, can be pathways to the holy. God’s presence is as close as our breath. It also reaches the far horizons of the universe. And when we tune our full and loving attention, we may encounter the “more” of life and existence, that which transcends life lived on a surface level. The holy is in the mundane, if we will simply behold it.
The more widely known, prayer practice called lectio divina usually follows a pattern of Read, Reflect, Respond, and Rest. To build on that pattern of prayerful attention, with a visual art object and A Gaelic Blessing set to music, I am offering here a new pattern: Listen, Look, Love, and Live.
I invite you to practice this Advent Prayer in a new (yet ancient) way. I hope you will adapt this pattern, spelled out below, into a kind of prayerful attention that follows you through this Advent season. Set aside time for this prayer on a daily basis. Returning to the words and images will repay your attentions with a shift in your heart and mind.
Find the Advent One music from A Gaelic Blessing here.
(‘A Gaelic Blessing’ From the album ‘Be Thou My Vision’ – Sacred Music by John Rutter)
Listen to A Gaelic Blessing set to music, focusing at the same time on the phrase or image that guides this week’s visio divina. (~ deep peace of the running wave to you ~) Let other thoughts, ideas, and experiences drift to the background and attend to the image before you. Make the image full screen to block out other distractions.
What do you hear with the ear of your heart?
Look at the painting, and continue looking after the music ends, allowing yourself a time of silence and deep, prayerful attention. In that time of reflection and attention, let yourself encounter the peace of God’s creation with the eye of your heart. What do you see in and through the image of the prayer? How does that peace, which transcends word and art, speak to you?
Pray your loving response by writing in a journal, speaking or humming, or in the silence of your heart.
Love God who created you and loves you, experiencing fully a sense of wonder and belovedness. Return your love to the One who invites you to bear witness to all of creation. Love the One who is the source of all peace. How will you make room for the love in your heart to flow into the love of God’s heart?
Live your life this week with a sense of belovedness and peace. Let the
prayer follow you and weave itself into your life this week. How can you allow love from the eye and ear of your heart interpret all that you see and hear this week?
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
by Julia Goldie Day
“Happy Waves of Life Welled Up, Inside Me”
12” x 24” oil on wood panel ($600)
For Advent One, “deep peace of the running wave to you,” Julia recommended her painting, “Happy Waves of Life Welled Up, Inside Me.” It is full of deep blues and greens in rich tones.
The phrase that titles this painting was written by the author Leo Tolstoy during a time of crisis after writing his two great novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Tolstoy’s search for meaning left him feeling empty until encountering God during a walk through the woods. He wrote of this experience in nature saying he felt so alive, so alert that “happy waves of life welled up, inside me.” Tolstoy said it was somewhat of a fleeting feeling but one that I identified with. Feeling alive when creating is when I feel most connected to the Creator God. The deep peace of a running wave wells up in me, I am transformed, I am made new.
The Longest Night
To continue building on this year’s Advent Prayer series, we invite you to join us for a live event on The Longest Night, December 21. We will make space for you to breathe, connect, grieve, and experience a sense of deep peace. Please sign up to join us.
The Pastoral Artist
In order to learn more about pastoral artist Julia Goldie Day, visit her website for more information and a gallery of her paintings.
Read her Advent series for Baptist News Global: Mary Christmas: The Blood of Advent. In her BNG series, you will see Advent through the eyes and body of Mary.