This weekend the plans for Resurrection’s stained glass window will be revealed. This window will be a visual image of the story of God’s love for all people in every generation past, present and future. We are surrounded by images in our lives. What we see around us in the world, and then the bombardment of media of all kinds – pictures on our phones, images on the computers some of us spend hours a day in front of, entertainment images….

An excellent way to slow down this rush of images and use what we see in an intentional and contemplative way is a prayer practice called Visio Divina, or “holy seeing.” It invites us to open our eyes, hearts and minds to really see one thing and one thing only for a period of time, and see that thing deeply, learning what God might say to us in our seeing of this image. Someday in the not-too-distant future, perhaps you will use this prayer practice sitting in front of the Resurrection stained glass window.

There is no set time for Visio Divina, but you should expect it to take at least 20-30 minutes.

The first thing is to choose an image. There are several ways to do this. You can choose a piece of art, illustration, or other work. Maybe there is a picture somewhere that has always reached out to you, but you’ve never spent time really seeing it. One of my favorite methods is to take a walk, taking a number of random photos as I go along, then choosing just one to sit with and pray. You can use a print on paper, set the image on your phone, computer, or tablet or sit close enough to the original image to really examine it. Another alternative is to choose a three dimensional object to see, like a leaf or a rock, or a specific view along the walking trail.

Before you being, spend a few minutes in quiet, casting off the distractions of the day and opening your mind and heart to God. Ask God to speak to you in this time of prayer and to open your eyes to God’s presence in the world around you.

Examine the image slowly. At first, look at it with a soft focus, not trying to see every little detail. Release any expectations and for a few minutes, just see.

Slowly explore the details. What relationships do you see? How do the colors influence your feelings? Are the edges soft or hard? Curved or straight

Focus on one small detail that seems to reach out to you. What do you see? Not “a rock” or “a green leaf.” What is special about this rock or this leaf? How would you describe it to someone who couldn’t see it?

Using your imagination, enter into the image. What do you see from inside?

Does this image bring up feelings, or memories? Does it stir something up? Do you see something you haven’t seen before?

Where do you see God in this image? Does some small part, or the whole of the image, remind you of God’s presence?

Now, respond to the image with prayer. The image may have shown you a need for healing, or reminded you of someone in need of prayer. It may produce a desire for praise and thanksgiving, or a joyful reaction to the wonder of nature or other small things. It may bring to mind past events, or questions. Whatever your thoughts and feelings as you explore the image, share them with God.

What does your prayer tell you about this particular moment in your life? Are you called to a new awareness or a new way of serving or a new way of seeking God’s presence?

End your time by sitting in silence, listening. Rest in this silence and let God pray in you.

If you like, spend some time following your prayer journaling about what you have seen and what God spoke to you through the seeing.

This can be an interesting exercise in a group, or with your family. Choose one image that each person can carry with them to a quiet place and sit for a time in holy seeing. Come back together and share what you saw. Remember each will be very personal, and there is no “right” or “wrong” answer.

Lord God who gave me eyes to see and the gift of your holy presence,
let this time of looking be blessed with true vision
and an increased knowledge of your presence
so I may carry a new understanding of your power and love
into the world and learn to see all as you do.

Jennifer Creagar
Resurrection Prayer Ministry