Saturday, March 2, 2013

Color a Prayer...{Finding Sanctuary - 9}

As promised, here is an exercise that promotes calmness and inner peace...

To download an image, click on the link, right click on the image file, select "save image as", and then save to your computer. Then you can print it out and color it as well as write your prayers or journal your thoughts right on your art work.  Attach it to your art journal or your prayer journal or give it away to one that will be blessed by it!
Download the Celtic Cross

Download the triquetra

Download the Celtic Knot Triquetra

Download the ferns in the square

Exercise instructions: Select one of the images above (or search for your own) and color it while praying about the issue you are exploring or the intense emotion that is unsettling you.  Take your emotional "temperature"...on a scale from 1 to 10 (with 10 being the strongest), how "hot" is your emotion?  Write the number in the upper right hand corner of your paper.  Spend a few moments inviting the Holy Spirit into the activity, to speak to you and to guide your thoughts and to release His peace into the process.  The act of coloring will focus you in the present moment, keeping you grounded while emotions flow, and it will help calm your brain's "fight or flight" response, if triggered (the increase in heart rate and breathing our survival instinct brings could be part of the reason you have tried NOT to feel your intense feelings in the past).  Finally, you will also create a visible expression of your reflection/prayer time. Feel free to write prayers, thoughts, pleas, and insights in the white spaces of your page as you go.  Consider putting your finished work up someplace to remind you of the work you and the Lord have accomplished so far.  When you are finished, take your emotional "temperature" again.  Hopefully it has started going down, you have processed the emotion and created beauty at the same time.

I have a deep regard for symbols and types as found in scripture and those used in the early church as a way to communicate the faith and truths of the Bible, since having personal written scripture was rare.  Since the birth of the Christian Church, the use of geometric designs as a part of prayer and reflection has a rich history.  In the first century, the use of a fish symbol arose in the midst of fierce persecution as a way for Christians to identify one another.  A believer could draw a fish in the dirt, and if those he was talking with also drew the sign, they knew they were both believers.  But if there was no reciprocal action, the identity with the Christian way of faith was still a secret.  Centuries later, among the Celtic Christians, monks copied the scriptures and illuminated the text with intricate designs, shapes, and creatures as an act of worship to the Lord.  Since it is March, I thought it would be fun to use images in the Celtic tradition.

Symbols have been used by the Christian church since the earliest ages for many reasons:
  • As a secret sign among the faithful during times of persecution.
  • As a means of teaching biblical truths to those unable to read.
  • As a way of reminding believers of God's sovereignty over all creation.
  • As a means of memorializing God's divine activity in human history.

A study of the various symbols of the Scripture and of the early church can truly deepen our own understanding of scripture, of the Lord, and of how He tries to communicate His ways to His creation. 

Symbols enable us to carry our spiritual awareness out of the sanctuary and into the created world, into our own human experience.  And that is the ultimate purpose of this exercise!


Older posts in this series:
The Journey begins
A new tool, part 2
A new tool, part 3 
A new tool, part 4 
A Soft Answer, part 5
How do We Step Into and Out of Anger? part 6
A Time for Reflection, part 7
My Mind Map and Thoughts, part 8