Tag: poetry

Inspiring Paintings: Like a Child 

Inspiring Paintings: Like a Child 

This amazing painting by Giotto captures the dramatic moment when St. Francis of Assisi (on the right, naked) throws off all his clothes in protest to his father (being restrained on the left), who was a rich merchant.

Francis says that he will from now on only follow his “heavenly father” (you can see the hand of God at the top of the painting).

I love the expression on the bishop’s face (who covers up Francis), the children front left who are caught up in the drama without really understanding what is going on, the onlookers, who probably also weren’t exactly sure what was going on apart from a domestic row, and the way Giotto uses the building to highlight the conflict between the two parties.

I wrote this poem about this moment in Francis’ life, captured so beautifully by the painting:

The bishop holds him

like a child

.

And in his nakedness

we see our own condition

.

Without impressiveness

without pretence

.

Open

to grace.

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Inspiring Paintings: “The Baptism of Christ”, Piero Della Francesca

Piero’s painting hangs in the National Gallery in London:

There is a beauty to the stillness of the figures, to the depth of this vision of heaven-on-earth, to the beautiful colours (look at the rainbow effect of the angel’s wing on the left-hand side, for example).

It is the moment when Jesus hears the words “You are my beloved”. John the Baptist hardly seems to dare to touch Jesus’ body, his approach is so reverent. The dove of the Spirit hovers as if it were a cloud and completely naturally part of the scene.

In the background someone else is getting ready to be baptised. It is the everyday action of getting undressed. Is this humanity in general? (we cannot see the face of an individual as it is hidden by his clothes).

Also in the background are the religious authorities of the day, in their fine robes (compare with Jesus’ near-naked body) and tall hats. They are dressed with the robes of status. But Jesus identifies with our basic humanity – “a poor, bare, forked animal” as Shakespeare describes us in King Lear.

The following sequence was inspired by this painting:

The Baptism of Christ (I)

.

The Angels

Winged from beyond our world

what do they perceive

that we cannot see?

.

And how may we become like them

in our worship?

.

Christ

Praying

absorbed in adoration

in the deep contemplation of God

.

He hears the words of affirmation

what all believers may know

.

That change the ground of our being

root us like the tree of life

to our source in God.

.

John the Baptist

To reach out

Tentatively

.

Offer a vocation

For this moment

.

Aware that it may cost you

Your life.

.

The Holy Spirit

May the dove descend on each of us

spread wings within

.

Unfurl in a flight of grace

to transport us beyond this place.

.

The Pharisees

There will always be

Our opponents

.

Those who judge

And do not understand

.

The subtleties

Of the spiritual life.

.

The Penitent

May we like him

cast off the clothes of our culture

.

And in nakedness

plunge into the baptism

.

Of mind

Of heart

And of soul.

.

unfurl AOC

Blessing in this gentle breeze

“OH there is blessing in this gentle breeze,

A visitant that while it fans my cheek

Doth seem half-conscious of the joy it brings

From the green fields, and from yon azure sky.

Whate’er its mission, the soft breeze can come

To none more grateful than to me; escaped

From the vast city, where I long had pined

A discontented sojourner: now free, Free as a bird…”

From The Prelude by William Wordsworth

.

Image by Lucian Aeris from Pixabay

My Spirit Drinks Deep

Another phrase

Finds me out

.

Just a few

Words are enough

.

For thought

To be inspired

.

And my spirit

Drinks deep

.

From the waters

Of life

.

That never

Run dry.

.

Inspired by Psalm 1, this poem comes from “Songs of Gladness, Songs of Pain”,  a modern rendering of twenty-nine different Psalms, ancient texts that speak of human struggle to understand and relate to God.

Like the Psalms, these poems seek to understand evil and violence in the world, searching for peace and meaning, searching for joy and gladness in the midst of pain.

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