We’ve seen in the Encyclical and The Letter Film how important it is to see the world from different viewpoints and from different generations. This meditation embraces those different viewpoints and we hope you find that the words of Scripture resonate in new ways for you.
We are following a six step process for Christian Meditation.
- Prepare and ask God for help. We start by asking for help to as we find a moment of calm to enter into a state of prayerful meditation.
- Praise God. It is appropriate for us to use the words of praise from St Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of Creation: Laudato Si’ mi Signore
- Read and stop… In this meditation we suggest 3 short passages: one from Psalm 116 and two from the Gospels.
- Meditate on the passage. Here we pause and use the image to help us see the words of Scripture in a new and meaningful way. We repeat 2 to 4 again for the next two passages.
- Give thanks. Once we have given ourselves time to meditate on the three passages we give thanks and in this case we give thanks to the Creator for the created world.
- Ask God to work in your life: may God reveal a truth to us – that He may work a change in our lives – and we pray for ourselves, our families, our faith communities and our world.
For the meditation we recommend only using the slides and if they are to be read aloud then to softly and slowly read the main text on the slides. Before starting we recommend explaining the steps we are to follow and then ask people to breathe in and out slowly to get into a calm and relaxed state.
For those that are curious on the images we have provided a short commentary.
We chose a classic flower photograph to start us off with a sense of calmness and awe.
We found this sixteenth Century painting of a river scene by Annibale Carracci (1590) courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington. This painting allows us to see the beauty of the world through the eyes of a different generation, giving an enhanced sense of intergenerational solidarity. People have recorded the captivating beauty of the Earth from the beginning of human history.
We encountered Psalm 116 in the second session of the Lent course. Here we see The Flight into Egypt by a follower of Joachim Patinir (1550/75) again courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Here we see the Holy Family walk to Egypt to protect the life of Jesus. Their journey as refugees must have been difficult however the painting gives us the feeling of being surrounded by nature. If we imagine walking with them then we may start to feel that we really are walking before the Lord in the land of the living.
Here we see someone viewing devotional art in a woodland. We can start to connect with our sister in the photograph as they contemplate the Creator in the midst of creation. We may start to see multiple interconnections as we observe this image. With the words Laudato Si’ mi Signore we view these interconnections with a sense of Praise.
We use Jesus’ words from Matthew’s Gospel as He tells us to look at the natural world around us. This passage is from Chapter 6 when He shows us to trust in providence. He is telling us not to worry. If we follow Him we will find that our earthly needs will be taken care of. Perhaps we can see that there is a parallel with today’s climate change and biodiversity loss: if we follow Him and care for His creation then we need not worry for providence will help us. No challenge is too big or too difficult: if we care we will get help. The excerpt we read here specifically tells us to look at the birds. We see a photograph of a bird and we can contemplate how birds feed and how many birds there are in the world. The view we are looking at may be familiar to a birdwatcher. It is a view that encourages us to see the natural world perhaps through the eyes of the wildlife.
Once more we praise Him. This time we view the world through the eyes of a child. We see the planet covered in life-giving light and in a garden of glory. This intergenerational view gives us a glimpse of the future.
Perhaps we pass fields often. How many times have we stopped and stared at just one of the flowers in the field? That a field can be filled with so much beauty is itself a miracle. Again we hear Jesus’ voice telling us not to worry and showing us how truly beautiful the world around us really is.
For this image of praise we are back viewing through the eyes of an artist of the past. A follower of Pietro Perugino at the very end of the fifteenth Century imagines Saint Jerome in the wilderness. So in effect we view his view of the fourth Century too. Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington.
The photograph is that of the contemporary art installation “Gaia” by Luke Jerram. It was on display at Derby Cathedral during the Season of Creation 2022 (September 2022). It was fitting that the created world was exhibited in a house of God. The Earth as depicted by this installation shows a view of the world which only a very few people have experienced. Even those in the International Space Station see the Earth at a much closer position. So only the astronauts who have escaped Earth’s orbit have had this view and as of early 2023 there remain only ten living witnesses of this view: those of the Apollo program of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
We give thanks a second time with a second image. This one is a NASA image from the DSCOVR satellite using their EPIC (Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera) visual imaging instrument. This is the view of the scientist. The image is recorded exactly 50 years after the very first blue marble image. On 7 December 1972 the last Apollo lunar mission, Apollo 17, took a photograph of the Earth in full sunlight: this iconic photograph became known as the blue marble. It wasn’t until DSCOVR was operational that we’ve been able to see that complete Earth image again.
The final image is a classic flower photograph allowing us to stop and stare at something we often walk past without much attention. It brings us back to where we started in the here and now. This is our view and we ask God to help us see our path and our calling here and now.