April 6, 2010

Image as Insight: Diving Deep

Baya Clare, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet continues the conversation about Margaret Miles’ program for engagement with sacred images.

Engaging with images to transcend surface information, such as taste or commercial value, requires spending significant amounts of time with them. So this week I'm sharing a painting I engage with daily. It hangs above the table where we eat, and my chair faces it.

This piece was painted about five or six years ago by Gretchen King, an artist I met during the annual Women's Art Institute at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She gave me this painting (to my everlasting astonishment) when I said I liked it. I've lost track of Gretchen, but I still love her painting. I don't know if she gave it a title, but it reminds me of Carol Christ's book about spiritual autobiography, Diving Deep and Surfacing: Women Writers on Spiritual Quest.

According to apocryphal legend, going deep is what Jesus did during those three days between the crucifixion and the resurrection. He was busy harrowing hell. I like that word. Harrowing: to break up, plunder or sack.

He was breaking up hard ground, setting it free, tossing out all the souls in prison so they could surface and grow again. It's surely no accident that we celebrate Easter as the earth is awakening to spring in the northern hemisphere...after the harrowing of Lent.

The Litany of Harrowing

For the uncovering of pain
For the courage to walk towards ghosts
For the dreams that answer questions
For the companions who hear the healing
For the tears which wash the soul
For the scars which prompt compassion
For the friends who speak the truth
For the laughter which brings back balance
For the words which bear no shame
For the love which does not bind
For the grace to desire wholeness
We give thanks to the Light of the World.

©2007, Baya Clare, CSJ


Elizabeth Cunningham said...

Thank you for this piece. I love the Litany of Harrowing and am going to put it on my bulletin board where I can see it and pray it often.

I also love the word harrowing. Here is a poem I wrote last year, which I offer here in thanks for yours. (I don't think the line breaks will be where I put them.)

Jesus the ground

In the Creed it says he descended into Hell
Some call it the harrowing of Hell.

I remember the summer I worked on a farm
driving the tractor, harrowing the rough-ploughed fields
dragging a big comb through the earth,
breaking up the clumps, softening it for the seeds.

Some say Jesus went down and raised the righteous dead,
led them forth from the shadowy regions of Sheol.

What if when he harrowed hell he became the earth,
rich and open and fertile, the ground for the grain
for the vine, what if we literally take his body
and turn it into bread and wine.

What if Jesus so loved the earth
he gave his only begotten body to the ground.

-Elizabeth Cunningham copyright 2009

Janet L. Bohren said...

For me an new and exciting interpretation of days between crucifixion and resurrection. The Litany of Harrowing dives deep and returns wonderful wisdom.
Janet Bohren

Brenda Finkle said...

This is the first time I've seen "The Litany of Harrowing" I really loved it. It's something that must be read more than once and reflected upon. Very nice. Thank you for sharing!

Brenda Finkle said...
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