~ Advent Two ~
deep peace of the
flowing air to you
Welcome to the second week of Advent 2023. We are continuing to bring to you a new prayer practice, rooted in ancient ways. Music and art come together for your reflection and nourishment.
You might be more familiar with lectio divina? It has a long history of helping Christian practice pray with a text through their eyes or ears. For this season, we invite you to try visio divina, a prayer of contemplative meditation. In this prayer, a sacred image or other media, rather than a sacred text, will 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, and also they open a transcendent exchange.
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 (and others), and an abstract painting by pastoral artist, Julia Goldie Day. My hope is for the words, music, and the images to inspire your imagination, and take you into a holy space of peace and love beyond the words, images, and sound.
We can find our way to the God’s holy presence through words and images, which is known as cataphatic prayer. We can also travel the pathway to the holy that is apophatic, by the negative or nothing way. Each of these pathways can lead to an encounter the “more” of life and existence, that which transcends life lived on a surface level. The holy is always everywhere, like the flowing air around us, if we simply pay attention.
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. During the first week of Advent I invited you to try it with one image and one musical setting of A Gaelic Blessing.
In this second week of Advent, I invite you to practice this new, yet ancient, Advent Prayer through visio divina. I hope you will keep giving this pattern, spelled out below, a chance to grow into prayerful attention. And I hope it will follow you through the 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, an encounter with the holy.
Find the Advent Two music from A Gaelic Blessing here.
A Gaelic Blessing Music: John Rutter
Words: adapted from an old Gaelic rune
The Choristers of Wells Cathedral Wells Cathedral School Chapel Choir Members of Wells Cathedral School String Chamber Orchestra
Mr Christopher Finch, musical director and sound editor
Mr Tim Walker, visual editor
Listen to A Gaelic Blessing set to music, during early months of the Covid-19 pandemic when breathing and air flow were on everyone’s mind. After listening and watching the composition of the video once, then cue it up again to play while you focus visio divina ~ deep peace of the flowing air to you ~ on the image of the week. Let other thoughts, ideas, and experiences drift to the back of your mind. And attend to the image before you. Make the image full screen to help you focus, and resist 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 flowing air that sustains God’s creation with your own breath and heartbeat.
What do you sense in and through the image of the prayer? How does the flow of God’s presence, move through and beyond the words, images, and thoughts, to speak to you through your body?
Pray your loving response by writing in a journal, speaking or humming, or in the silence of simply breathing
Love God who created you and loves you, sustains you from breath to breath. Breathe in love, experiencing fully a sense of wonder and being held in belovedness. Breathe out love returning life to the One who gives you life. Love the One who is the source of all life.
How will you make room for the love in your heart to flow like air between you and the God of all creation?
Live your life this week with a sense of belovedness and peace. Return to the flowing air of your breath. Let each breath which gives you life be a prayer that follows you, and weaves itself into your life this week.
How can you allow life and breath remind you that you are beloved, and sustained in every moment this week?
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
by Julia Goldie Day
“Something Larger Emerges”
14”x10” oil on canvas ($450 framed)
For Advent Two, “deep peace of the flowing air to you,” Julia shared her painting, “Something Larger Emerges.”
Air — another element of nature, gentle flowing and transformative — flows to us, bringing us peace. Air does not allow us to stay still or static, it gently forces us to move, to grow, to become something larger than we were before. Somehow, we are less small. When looking back it is easier to see our growth, how we now are larger. As the air flows around us, giving us peace, it moves us once again towards something larger. We are invited to see each other’s largeness and reflect on our peace within.
The Longest Night
To continue expanding this year’s Advent Prayer series, like breath in the lungs, we invite you to join us for a live event on The Longest Night, Thursday, December 21. We will make space for you to breathe, connect, grieve, and experience a sense of deep peace. We will invite the return of light and love. 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.