- Divine Seeing or Sacred Gazing -
Visio Davina, which means “divine seeing,” and sometimes called "sacred gazing," uses art as a starting point for prayerful meditation. It “invites one to encounter the divine through images.” Using a piece of art word as a focal point, this prayerful meditation can be practiced by an individual or in a small group. Sometimes scripture is paired with the image as well.
We generally think of prayer as a something we read, say, or listen to. But prayer can also be a visual experience and art can bring another dimension to prayer.
Images (and all forms of visual arts) can often evoke rich nuance and meaning that cannot be replicated in words. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth 1,000 words.”
Art has a long history within the Christian church. Paintings, tapestries, sculptures, friezes, stained glass, and other images and icons were one of the first ways the common people could understand the stories of Christianity. It was not until the 1450s that the printing press began to make the Bible accessible to those outside of the church, and even then the majority of people in were not literate until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (and globally not until the mid-to-late twentieth century!). For thousands of years, oral and visual traditions were the primary means through which people were exposed to the Bible and the Christian faith. The result is a wealth of religious artworks in every style and media - a treasury from which we, today, can draw inspiration.
Many people use religious artwork as a starting point for prayer and meditation, for others art is a central part of their spiritual life, but inspiration can be found in all types of art - ancient, modern, classical, abstract, religious, secular.
Art can be both a source of inspiration and a form of expression. Many artists today continue to create art that is deeply connected to their faith and their spirituality. Art can help the viewer or the artist themselves to engage more deeply in prayer, to foster contemplation on holy events and holy lives, relating it to their own lives.
Through this website I will try to share my views and experiences of Meeting God in the Everyday.
I am a wife, sister, friend and in the past I have been a nurse in the NHS, an Acupuncturist and since 2014 I've been an ordained minister in the Church of England. At the moment I am the vicar of four rural parishes in South Warwickshire.
Meeting with God Every Day
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Experiencing the spiritual impact of the visual...
Praying with art can be most enlightening spiritually and emotionally. Different pictures, paintings and pieces of art can evoke different feelings and emotions and spiral into different spiritual encounters and pathways to prayer.
Praying with art can be done alone or with others.
This is a lovely experience to share as a group and can be done in two ways:
each person chooses from a selection of different pieces of art, a picture or item that 'speaks' to them.
alternatively each person has the same piece of art.
Whichever is done it can be good to include a time of reflection to share individual experiences. However, I suggest sharing is optional.
Try this form of prayer and if you like it I would suggest you make your own collection of pictures and pieces of art. You could do this by simply collecting pictures and postcards you like. However, this may limit you and not stretch you as much as you would like. An alternative is to purchase a pre packed selection of cards. I have done this. St. Clare at the Cathedral produce a new selection of cards each year.
£15 purchased from St. Clares (costs may alter)
The Gazing Prayers - a collection of 45 beautiful printed cards, featuring images of people, places and creation which, come in a plastic wallet for easy storage.
Time to Pray
Visio Davina in 6 steps
pick an image, photograph, painting, icon or sculpture.
close your eyes and take 5-6 rounds of full inhalations and exhalations taking any distractions, or worries into your mind as you inhale and letting them go as you exhale.
when you’re ready to start and be be present in the moment open your eyes and let your gaze rest on your piece of art and open your heart and mind to God.
ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.Trust that the Holy Spirit is there to help you.
ask yourself... ‘What am I grateful for?’, 'What do I want right now?’
take a few minutes to let yourself take in what you see - the image/sculpture, piece of art.
‘read’ the image really SLOWLY. Some people find that systematically moving your eyes from left to right and top to bottom, helps to slow them down and notice detail. Let the image move deeply into your being, like nourishing rain into the soil. Allow it to touch you.
is there a figure, shape, colour or texture that catches your attention? Concentrate on that.
Try to keep your eyes from wandering to other parts of the image. Breathe deeply and let your eyes stay, for a minute or so, with the very first thing that catches your attention.
now, let your eyes gaze at the whole image. Take your time and look at every part. See it all. Reflect on the whole image for a minute or so.
reflect on the art work (or part of it) that has touched you, exploring what it means to you here and now. Let the image resonate with your personal situation; believe that through this process God is communicating with you, perhaps giving an encouragement or a challenge, or calling you to a deeper awareness of God’s love for you.
be aware of any feelings that arise in you as you look at the image and try not to label them as "right" or "wrong" just notice them and then turn your heart to God sharing these feelings and considering what these feelings might be trying to say. Perhaps they bring up a memory or an impression. Let your heart be open to whatever it is that might be the message for you.
now respond and talk to God about what you have been thinking and what you have noticed.
does this reveal anything about God, your relationship with God and your life?
speak to God as you would one friend to another.
does this lead you into an attitude of prayer?
If so, let these prayers take form in you.
You might pray your response or write them down if you desire, even sing or dance or paint your response …pray as the Spirit moves you.
Now, offer your prayers to God in a final time of silence.
In this final and most important stage, sit quietly with God, at rest in the presence of the One who loves you. Do not worry that you may appear to be doing ‘nothing’. 'Trust' that the Holy Spirit is at work in the depths of your spirit, deepening your faith. Let the image and its message move from your head to your heart to dwell there in peace-full silence.
Sometimes, things are just quiet; there are no specific impressions. This is not a win or fail activity. If this is the case, enjoy the quiet. Sometimes there are deep things going on deep inside the heart that we only become aware of later. So don't give up and automatically think this is not for you if you don't get something the first time around. Remember sometimes the silence is the deepest and most profound of all!
- Divine Seeing -
Your own creation
An Artful Experience
Craft & Activism = Craftivism
- in Mission -