URC :: Spirituality

broadening and deepening prayer
United Reformed Church Spirituality articles:

Praying with a painting — 2, a prayer in advent

Mark Argent, painting by Elizabeth Gray King
4 September 2019

Eliabeth Gray King Am I free

This is part of Elizabeth Gray King’s painting Am I Free. Reacting to the painting before looking at how it is described on her web site, it seemed to speak into the season of Advent moving towards Christmas.

I’d often encourage people to be with their own reactions to a painting before looking to see how the artist describes it. There is something about the immediacy of the painting itself. For painting as an invitation into prayer, the question might be “Where am I being invited to encounter God in my reaction to the painting?” That always carries a second layer: if the sense is of the felt absence of God, can that absence itself become rich — a little like Elijah having a string of experiences which might have been seen as signs of God, and instead having a transformative experience in the silence that followed.

In the first instance, the invitation might be to sit with the painting and see what happens.

Beyond that, in an Advent season which is about waiting, and a Christmas season which explores God drawn near in all the fragility and vulnerability of a new-born child, what might we be on offer in the figure-becoming-visible in the unclear background? I find it touching something of what is masked by the clichés of tinsel and glitter.
After that, there is indeed an invitation to look at Elizabeth’s web site (elizabethgrayking.com), to allow Elizabeth’s words to take the journey further.