ART: Window Twelve — Easter, The Day of Resurrection by Michael Sullivan

April 16, 2017

From: Windows Into the Light O God, who made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection: Stir up in your church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the Unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) God, you promise new birth in the midst of life and you offer light wherever I find my darkness.  As you rise forth from the ashes, bring me with you along the pathway to a new hope and show me how to see my journey as an invitation to fullness in all that I encounter. Amen. Matthew 28:1-10 (Mary [...]

ART: Window Eleven — Holy Saturday by Michael Sullivan

April 15, 2017

From: Windows Into the Light O God, Creator of Heaven and Earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) God, I don’t like to wait on you.  Too often, I prefer my own ways to yours and either stay stuck in darkness or afraid to consider new life because I can’t fathom turning things over to you.  Help me to let go and let you lead and guide, and through my own cross, may I too find my empty tomb.  Amen. Matthew 27:55-66 (Sealing the tomb) Many women were [...]

ART: Window Ten — Good Friday by Michael Sullivan

April 14, 2017

From: Windows Into the Light Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) Today, God, I go with you as we carry the cross.  Help me to let you take my life as we walk the journey toward Golgotha, and trusting in you, let me plumb the depths of your light and love in my life. Amen. John 19:1-37 (The crucifixion) Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.  And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe.  They kept coming [...]

ART: Window Nine — Maundy Thursday by Michael Sullivan

April 13, 2017

From: Windows Into the Light Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) Christ, you gently reach down and cleanse us, as a mother washes a child’s hands coated with dirt from the playground.  But many times, we turn and run away, seeking not your face nor your love in those around us.  Help us to see our place with all your children, and knowing your grace, to gather together in feast and [...]

ART: Window Eight — Palm Sunday by Michael Sullivan

April 9, 2017

From: Windows Into the Light Almighty and ever-living God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) We travel through life unaware of the twists and turns that will come our way.  Places of celebration and parade become places of difficulty in a moment, and plans for the future are sometimes shattered quickly.  But you are always with us, God, providing [...]

POETRY: Death & Transfiguration by Paul Mariani

April 7, 2017

Down the precipitous switchbacks at eighty the pokerfaced Palestinian cabby aims his Mercedes while the three of us, ersatz pilgrims, blank-eyed, lurch, and the droll Franciscan goes on about the Art Deco Church of the Transfiguration crowning the summit of the Mount. Up there I’d touched the damp stones of the old Crusader fount, paced the thick walls, imagined Muslims circling below on horseback, muleback, then ascending for the final blow. A decent pasta and a dry wine, thanks to the Fratelli who run the hostel at the site, followed by an even drier lecture in the sun- drenched court, then back down to the glinting taxis, ready to return us now to the same old, feverish, unsteady world half a mile below.  I thought of the old [...]

ART: Window Seven — Fifth Sunday In Lent by Michael Sullivan

April 2, 2017

From: Windows Into the Light Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) At times, I feel lost and abandoned, not really knowing where to turn or how to seek you.  When the darkness of life seems too great to bear, enfold me in your arms and let me feel your love surround me, that where you are, there I will be also. Amen. John 12:20-23 (Those who lose [...]

ART: Window Six — Fourth Sunday In Lent by Michael Sullivan

March 26, 2017

From: Windows Into the Light Gracious Father, whose blessed Son, Jesus Christ, came down from Heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) You are always welcoming me back to the feast, God, no matter how far I stray, no matter what I do, or what I say.  Let me see that you have always loved me and that you are always welcoming me home with a feast of new life. Amen. John 6:4-15 (The feeding of the five thousand) Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near.  When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, [...]

ART: Window Five — Third Sunday In Lent by Michael Sullivan

March 19, 2017

From: Windows Into the Light Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) God, my soul both awaits and celebrates your presence.  At times I drive you away, replacing your love for me with objects of my own desire.  On other days, I welcome you  with wild abandon, preparing a feast for all to enjoy.  Help me to find the places between, the places where I can be [...]

ART: Window Four — Second Sunday In Lent by Michael Sullivan

March 12, 2017

From: Windows Into the Light O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ, your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) God of refuge and comfort: you are always graciously present with me, even in moments of despair and loneliness; show me the presence of your life in all that I say and do, that through times of trouble and challenge, I might find my cross in your hands, and my life in your life. Amen. Mark 8:31-38 (The Son of Man is to suffer; take up your cross and [...]

ART: Window Three — First Sunday In Lent, by Michael Sullivan

March 5, 2017

From: Windows Into the Light Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) Loving God, you formed us from the dust of the Earth and filled us with your life-giving spirit: let us find beauty in our creation, and trusting in your never-failing love, help us to see all our days as opportunities for the freedom you give; through Jesus the Christ, who stooped so low as to know dust himself, and who with the Holy [...]

ART: Window Two — Ash Wednesday by Michael Sullivan

March 1, 2017

From: Windows Into the Light Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) God who rises from the ashes, go with me into my places of grief and doubt; fill me with love and respect for the life I have been given; and teach me to hear my life speak of your light no matter the darkness that I feel; through Jesus the Christ, who always liberates and [...]

ART: Window One — The Spiritual Exercises, Art as the Soul’s Expression by Michael Sullivan

February 27, 2017

From: Windows Into the Light The spiritual exercises that follow each narrative provide an opportunity to open the windows toward God’s light.  These exercises use various artistic methods to surprise the soul with new awareness and hope.  They create bridges between what you read and your own life, a way to jump from the light in another person’s life into your own.  These exercises are easy to follow and require no artistic experience or expertise.  You don’t need expensive supplies or a studio.  All you need is an open heart and mind – a willingness to engage God’s journey with you as your discover your life. Art opens our experience to newness in our prayers.  Most of us use far too much of our left [...]

POETRY: Kitchen Maid With Supper At Emmaus; or, The Mulata, by Natasha Trethewey

November 17, 2016

After the painting by Diego Velázquez, c. 1619 She is the vessels on the table before her: the copper pot tipped toward us, the white pitcher clutched in her hand, the black one edged in red and upside-down. Bent over, she is the mortar, and the pestle at rest in the mortar—still angled in its posture of use. She is the stack of bowls and the bulb of garlic beside it, the basket hung by a nail on the wall and the white cloth bundled in it, the rag in the foreground recalling her hand. She’s the stain on the wall the size of her shadow— the color of blood, the shape of a thumb. She is echo of Jesus at table, framed in the scene behind her: his white corona, her white cap. Listening, she leans into what she knows. Light falls on [...]

ANGELS: Dynastic Return To The Old Faith by Willibald Sauderländer

July 28, 2016

From The Catholic Rubens: Saints and Martyrs The Archangel Michael Altar for Duke Wilhelm of Pfalz-Neuburg A vehement and stormy altarpiece demonstrates how Peter Paul Rubens contributed his furia del pennello [brush fury] to the confessional struggles surging through Bavaria before and during the Thirty Years War.  At issue in this case was the reconversion of the collateral line of the Wittelsbach family in Pfalz-Neuburg, who had fallen away from the old faith.  When Wolfgang Wilhelm, the eldest son of the rigidly Lutheran count palatine Philipp Ludwig, reconverted to Roman Catholicism in order to marry a sister of Duke Maximilian of Bavaria in 1613, the Jesuits appeared in Neuburg that same year as confessors and preachers. [...]

POETRY: Crivelli’s Pietà Angel by Katherine Soniat

July 20, 2016

In life it was just another spring plunging with trees and noon-dark weather. Things went on from there, betrayal aside. But this angel’s sopped eyes are beyond consolation, stopped with a brokenness the living feel about the dead. And Crivelli must have known it, with each gray, each plum daub to the sockets. Somewhere this angel must have a furious double, red eyes rolling from so much wandering and confusion in the desert before they settled into a sadness like winter— all there is. Long ago I watched birds arc back and forth over iron tracks outside a city, and departing that life, I could not see my hesitation as natural the jerking toward change and death the charm of all that is natural. This angel [...]

ART: God’s Truth Is Life by Christian Wiman

November 18, 2014

From Image When I was twenty years old I spent an afternoon with Howard Nemerov.  He was the first “famous” poet I had ever met, though I would later learn that he was deeply embittered by what he perceived to be a lack of respect from critics and other poets.  (I once heard Thom Gunn call him a “zombie.”)  My chief memories are of his great eagerness to nail down the time and place for his mid-day martini, him reciting “Animula” when I told him I loved Eliot, and asking me at one point – with what I now realize was great patience and kindness – what I was going to do when I graduated later that year.  I had no plans, no ambitions clear enough to recognize as such, no interest in any of the [...]

THE SHADOW: Light’s Companion by Madeleine L’Engle

September 30, 2014

From Parabola In A Child’s Garden of Verses, Robert Louis Stevenson writes, “I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me / and what can be the use of him is more than I can see.”  Those lines baffled me as a child.  I didn’t regard my shadow as being useful, but as being essential.  I read everything I could get hold of, and somewhere I had read that if you did not cast a shadow you didn’t exist.  Ghosts had no shadows.  I’m not sure about werewolves.  But to be a real human being, you had to cast a shadow.  I lived in New York City, and when I walked to the park I was moderately careful to walk around people’s shadows so that I didn’t step on them; I didn’t want [...]

CONTEMPLATION: The Mystic As Artist by Evelyn Underhill

January 30, 2014

From Mysticism There is a kind of activity which is characteristic of the mystic: an education which he is called to undertake, that his consciousness of the Infinite may be stabilized, enriched, and defined.  Already once or twice we have been in the presence of this activity, have been obliged to take its influence into account: as, were we studying other artistic types, we could not leave on one side the medium in which they work. Contemplation is the mystic’s medium.  It is an extreme form of that withdrawal of attention from the external world and total dedication of the mind which also, in various degrees and ways, conditions the creative activity of musician, painter, and poet: releasing the faculty by which he can [...]

POETRY: Instructions To Painters & Poets, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

January 29, 2014

I asked a hundred painters and a hundred poets how to paint sunlight on the face of life Their answers were ambiguous and ingenuous as if they were all guarding trade secrets Whereas it seems to me all you have to do is conceive of the whole world and all humanity as a kind of art work a site-specific art work an art project of the god of light the whole earth and all that’s in it to be painted with light And the first thing you have to do is paint out postmodern painting And the next thing is to paint yourself in your true colors in primary colors as you see them (without whitewash) paint yourself as you see yourself without make-up without masks Then paint your favorite people and animals with your brush loaded with light And be [...]

SATURDAY READING: What Art Can and Can’t Do, by Philip Yancey

December 8, 2012

From First Things During flirtations with existentialism in my youth, I came to love the mysterious Book of Ecclesiastes, with its ambiguities and exquisite sense of the rhythms of life.  In the years since, I have moved well beyond existential despair, but many times I have returned to Ecclesiastes and breathed a prayer of thanks that God saw fit to include such unbleached realism in Holy Scripture.  During the Festival of Tents, Jewish families read the entire book aloud, a practice I would recommend to certain groups of happy-face Christians today. In time, I noticed that the last chapter of Ecclesiastes contains words directed toward people in my own profession of writing: “He pondered and searched out and set in order many [...]

PRAYER: Intimacy, Art, and Meditation by Morton T. Kelsey

November 10, 2012

From The Other Side of Silence: A Guide to Christian Meditation One reason that we so often discuss prayer only superficially and intellectually is because this, in some ways, is the most personal and intimate aspect of one’s life.  Speaking about it is like laying oneself open for public examination.  Our meditations reveal what matters most to us, and it is not easy to stand naked before others in our weakness and fear and exaltation.  Perhaps it seems strange that contact with the Holy should be such a difficult experience to share.  Yet this is like telling of the intimate aspects of one’s love life. In reality meditation is the record of one’s love life with God.  Sharing it with another person is like taking someone into [...]