Praying with Art

Are you an artist?  Or someone who is interested in art history?  Or maybe you just consider yourself a “visual” person?  If so, you may like to explore the idea of praying with art.  Henri Nouwen, a catholic priest who was well known for his books on the spiritual life wrote an entire book about his experience with a famous painting, The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Rembrandt.  Here is an excerpt describing his original encounter with the painting,

“When I first saw  the Prodigal Son I had just finished an exhausting six week lecturing trip …I was dead tired …anxious, lonely, restless and very needy.  …It was in this condition that I first encountered (a poster of the painting)…on the door of Simone’s office.  My heart leapt when I saw it.  After my long self-exposing journey, the tender embrace of the father and son expressed everything I desired at the moment.  I was, indeed, the son exhausted from long travels;  I wanted to be embraced;  I was looking for a home where I could feel safe.  The son-come-home was all I was and all that I wanted to be.”

Here is the picture Nowen described:

In the book Nouwen meditates on this picture, thinking of himself as the prodigal son, the older son and the father.  Christian art can be a way to put yourself into a Bible story, imagine the environment and the characters and experience it in a whole new way.

If you are interesting in exploring this type of prayer, you might also want to read Behold the Beauty of the Lord: Praying with Icons, by the same author.

1 thought on “Praying with Art

  1. Pingback: Contemplative Vision by Juliet Benner–Book Review | Lutheran Ladies Connection

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