no WORDS needed
“Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I'd do. I'd go out into a great big field all alone or in the deep, deep woods and I'd look up into the sky—up—up—up—into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I'd just feel a prayer.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
I recently was in conversation with a friend who was telling a story of where their 13 year old son was asked to pray before a meal, and so prayed,
“Thanks for the food, Amen.”
Another parent at this meal, apparently turned to their young children and said,
“Don’t pray like that.”
Thinking over this exchange, I began thinking about what prayer would be if the words were taken away and we still wanted to communicate with God. Now I say this as someone who collects books of beautifully crafted prayers and even boasts a tattoo representing one of my favorite Puritan prayers. Prayer is a rich part of our spiritual life and I have no intention of minimizing that. Being stripped of words forces me to just be with God.
“The icon functions as a tool for recollecting the mind and heart and settling into the nearness of God (whether felt or unfelt). On the most basic level, icons help us to remember who we are, and to whom we pray.”
I am thinking of this series as a type of prayer icons, where one could use these paintings to focus on while praying. I am new to the world of Icons, but I know as one who has a hard time stilling my mind, the idea of focusing on something helps me become still. Traditionally in Icon paintings, there is a face with a gaze to focus on, which makes sense since the whole point of prayer is connecting with Jesus who you are in relationship with. I confess, I am not comfortable with this yet. A painted face does not bring me the comfort and rest that I am finding in color and line.
These prayer icons start with a black space to focus on with a lot of movement behind them. It feels like a visual representation of the prayer process for me; trying to zero in on focus when there is a lot of noise in my head.
I want to begin with stilling myself in the focus spot. I am here, Be with me, Lord.
Then I can walk around the canvas.
This is what I am thinking about. Stay with me, Lord.