Advent in Art 2008: Images and guided reflection
- Gabriel appears to Mary in her home. How has God appeared to you this year within the ordinariness of your own home and life?
- Mary's gesture in the painting may be one of initial recoil. What are your default manouevres against registering God? That is, once you have noticed God's presence, how do you screen yourself from it?
- Identify a part of your ordinary life in which God needs to be 'brought to birth.'
- For what reasons would you welcome it?
- For what reasons would you find such a thing threatening?
- Botticelli's Gabriel looks concerned at Mary's reaction. If you decline God's initiative, how does God return and re-present it?
- Gabriel's right hand in the picture presents the illusion of resting against the doorframe behind him. His gesture may be a symbolic one of 'supporting' the house. He may be a figuring of how God is present in or emerges from the ordinariness of the house. Look around your living space. What does that space say to you about God? About God's support for you and whomever you might live with?
- Who are your key ancestors (biologically)?
- Which, if you know them, across the generations would be your favourite?
- What, other than biology, did they contribute?
- Who, related by blood or not, are your 'spiritual' ancestors?
- What do you as an identity inherit from them?
- What unique combination of their traits do you bring to the world?
- What would like to be your own spiritual legacy?
- How would you hope your own spiritual (and/or biological) descendants inherit from you?
- Draw a chart or map of your spiritual ancestors. Include some form of representation as to how they might literally or metaphorically correspond. Sketchthe lines of influence - potential, actual, preferred or wished.
- Choose one action you can bring to the world this week that expresses the best of what you have inherited spiritually. Choose one person to whom you could it express it. Try doing so, non-verbally.
Rembrandt's painting includes a burst of light in a context of heavy chiaroscuro ('darkness'). What in your world, is your current 'chiaroscuro'? How does Christ appear to you as light? Where in the chiaroscuro, would you most like the light of Christ to appear? Redraw the Rembrandt, in colour if you can. How would you change the lighting? What in the corners does this reveal?
Redraw the Rembrandt set in your own life. Who is the Mary? Who the Joseph? Who is the person nearby getting on with ordinary life? How does the 'light' reach them even if they are not attending to it? What remains in the chiaroscuro corners? What is the 'world outside' for you?
- What are your own perceptions and values around literal vaccination for infants?
- What are the likely implications and consequences for your stance?
- What would make for a good spiritual 'vaccine'? i.e. Against what would you hope to be spiritually 'vaccinated'? (That is, vaccinated, not anaesthetised)...
- If God were to be present in your life as a 'healthy' and 'human' kind of 'embryo', how would you protect and nurture that embryonic life? How does such a metaphor impact on your usual relationship to your spirituality (neglect; anger; triumph of the will etc)?