Remember Me by Sharon Garlough Brown–Book Review

Remember Me is the sequel to Sharon Garlough Brown’s novel, Shades of Light (Shades of Light}.  It continues the story of Wren as she struggles to deal with anxiety, depression and grieves over the death of her closest friend, Casey.  Wren is helped in her journey by her Aunt Kit, a spiritual director, who has experienced similar issues in the her own past.  Together, thorough art, letters, and scripture, they walk in the steps of Jesus in the passion story and come to a better understanding of their own grief and mourning.

At the back of this novella, there are eight meditations along with artwork, so that you can move through the journey to the cross on your own.  They are perfect for meditation, prayer, and journaling, and could even be used with a small group. This would be an excellent Lenten discipline to undertake, alone or with a friend!

One idea I especially liked was the idea of writing an obituary to mark a loss in your life.  This might involve death, but there are many other ways we experience loss– a friend moves away, our children grow up and leave home, we lose a job.  It’s important to name and grieve these changes before we move on.

VERDICT:  5 STARS.  This is a great little book which will help and comfort anyone experiencing grief.  Highly recommended.

For other books by Sharon Garlough Brown see:

Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown — Book Review

Two Steps Forward by Sharon Garlough Brown — Book Review

A Book about Surrender

An Extra Mile by Sharon Garlough Brown–Book Review

 

 

 

 

 

The Good Shepherd

Years ago my husband gave a Via de Cristo retreat talk entitled Study.  He spoke about the many ways we study without even realizing it, and one of those ways is through art.  He said that when he was a boy there was a huge painting of Christ, the King on the church wall behind the altar.  He gazed at that picture week after week during worship and it’s now deeply engrained in his mind.  It has influenced the way he sees and thinks about Jesus.

I realized that he was not the only one to have that experience.  My childhood church had the same sort of design, but the picture I saw every week was Jesus, the Good Shepherd.  In it, Jesus carries a lamb, and there are other sheep around Him.  I have come to believe this is why, for me, the image of the Good Shepherd has deeply colored my experience and understanding of Christ.  When I imagine myself meeting Jesus, this is the image that comes to my mind.

Christ the King depicts Jesus in His glory, surrounded by clouds, a crown on His head, with upraised arms. This is Jesus as God.  As the Good Shepherd, Christ appears to be very gentle and approachable. This is Jesus the man.  One emphasizes power and holiness, the other love and compassion.  Both are equally valid and parts of the same person, but each can influence our emotions and understanding of Jesus.

So, I’m interested.  Readers and authors, what is your dominant image of our Lord?  Is there a picture in your mind?  Where does it come from?

My Favorite Icon

Speaking of Christian art, I have a number or icons.  This one is my favorite.  It seems particularly appropriate since we just celebrated Trinity Sunday. What do you think?  Does this icon speak to you? Does it help you understand the trinity?

Might this icon help you to pray?

The Holy Trinity
Andrei Rublev’s Icon of the Holy Trinity.
The Church has many different depictions of the Holy Trinity. But the icon which defines the very essence of Trinity Day is invariably the one which shows the Trinity in the form of three angels. The prototype for this icon was the mysterious appearance of the Holy Trinity in the form of three travelers to Abraham and Sarah under the oak of Mamre. The Church specifically chose this particular icon because it most fully expresses the dogma of the Holy Trinity: the three angels are depicted in equal dignity, symbolizing the triunity and equality of all three Persons.

The Trinity. Andrei Rublev (1370-1430). Moscow.
The Trinity.
Andrei Rublev (1370-1430).
Moscow.
We find the deepest understanding of this dogma in the icon of the Trinity painted by the venerable Andrei Rublev for the Trinity Cathedral of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra. This icon is a masterpiece of ancient Russian iconography, and it is not surprising that the Church established it as the model for depicting the Trinity.

In Andrei Rublev’s icon, the persons of the Holy Trinity are shown in the order in which they are confessed in the Credo. The first angel is the first person of the Trinity – God the Father; the second, middle angel is God the Son; the third angel is God the Holy Spirit. All three angels are blessing the chalice, in which lies a sacrificed calf, prepared for eating. The sacrifice of the calf signifies the Savior’s death on the cross, while its preparation as food symbolizes the sacrament of the Eucharist. All three angels have staffs in their hand as a symbol of their divine power.

The first angel, shown at left, is vested in a blue undergarment which depicts his divine celestial nature, and a light purple outer garment which attests to the unfathomable nature and the royal dignity of this angel. Behind him and above his head towers a house, the abode of Abraham, and a sacrificial altar in front of the house. This image of the abode has a symbolic meaning: the house signifies God’s master plan for creation, while the fact that the house towers above the first angel shows him to be the head (or Father) of this creation. The same fatherly authority is seen in his entire appearance. His head is not bowed and he is looking at the other two angels. His whole demeanor – the expression on his face, the placement of his hands, the way he is sitting – all speaks of his fatherly dignity. The other two angels have their heads inclined and eyes turned toward the first angel with great attention, as though conversing with him about the salvation of mankind.

The second angel is placed in the middle of the icon. This placement is determined by the position held by the second Person within the Trinity Itself. Above his head extend the branches of an oak tree. The vestments of the second angel correspond to those in which the Savior is usually depicted. The undergarment is a dark crimson color which symbolizes the incarnation, while the blue outer robe signifies the divinity and the celestial nature of this angel. The second angel is inclined towards the first angel, as though deep in conversation. The tree behind him serves as a reminder of the tree of life that was standing in Eden, and of the cross.

The angel on the right is the third Person of the Trinity – the Holy Spirit. His light blue undergarment and smoky-green outer garment represent heaven and earth, and signify the life-giving force of the Holy Spirit, which animates everything that exists. “By the Holy Spirit every soul lives and is elevated in purity” – sings the Church. This elevation in purity is represented in the icon by a mountain above the third angel.

Thus Andrei Rublev’s icon, while being an unsurpassed work of iconography, is first and foremost a “theology in color,” which instructs us in all that concerns the revelation of the triune God and the three Persons of the Holy Trinity.

From the book “Thoughts on Iconography” by monk Gregory Krug.

 

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.