As you take a moment to sit quietly with this image, where are your eyes drawn? Is it the figure of Jesus on the cross, the various churches, the contrast of light and darkness in the painting, the depth of color? What catches your attention? What stirs your heart? God communicates to us through images, sounds, words, feelings, imagination and intuition. What is God communicating to you as you gaze at this image?
This painting, created by Robert Gilroy, SJ, is titled the “Contemplation to Attain Divine Love.” It is a visual representation of the final contemplation of the Spiritual Exercises written by St. Ignatius. In this exercise, the retreatant is asked to contemplate how God lovingly creates all things, including our very selves, sustaining and laboring in love. This “Divine Love” exists in the mutual communion and sharing between God and ourselves, and through the gifts and actions of our lives.
As I contemplate this image, I am drawn toward the center, the deep red and orange colors of Jesus’ body on the cross. I see selfless love – divine love – igniting there and rippling out to the churches as the fire of love. These mission-style churches burn with the flame of God’s heart, inviting us as co-laborers in God’s mission of love in the world. I also notice the rays of light streaming from the top of the image and shining through all that is created, reflecting the brilliant light of God’s enacted love.
As I continue to pray with this image, I am reminded of the following poem that captures God’s wholehearted love lavished upon us, and our longing to embody that love in and through our daily lives.
Lord, may your love play upon my voice
and rest in my silence.
Let it pass through my heart,
into all that I do.
Let your love shine like stars
in the darkness of my sleep,
and in the dawn of my awakening.
Let it burn in all the flames of my desires,
and flow in all the currents of my love.
Let me carry your love in my life,
as a harp does its music,
and give it back to you at last with my life.
- Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
Reflection by Lisa Buscher, RSCJ
Art by Robert Gilroy, SJ