GraceNotes: Holding the Space for … Reflection

#58 — February 1, 2017

Art is a wound turned into Light.

— Georges Braque

Greetings, Inspired Seekers!

What is your touchstone? Is it a certain prayer? Or a piece of music? Perhaps it is a painting or sculpture that connects you, in a mystical sense, to the Divine.

These images have a transformative power according to our friend, Carl Jung, and I must say that I agree. Powerful pieces of art inspire us, change us and connect us in a way that unifies the mind and the heart while we gaze.

For Christians, perhaps the most powerful image is the crucifix; for Buddhists, it might be one of the many sand canvases of a mandala. For the Jew, gazing at the Scrolls can be a moment of spiritual intimacy and for Hindus, a statue of Vishnu can be gripping. These deeply moving experiences are mystical, but only if our gaze is uninterrupted and our minds do not wander. And that is not easy to do, given the state of the world.

The great mystics were immersed in the wholeness of the universe, in the union between the human and the Divine. I believe that this is the mystical experience of grace. That moment when the small transforms into its larger self, when the specific becomes the universal. This transformation is in the final realization that the Bigness of Spirit is within us and not separate. When we experience that oneness, we are transformed - but only if we can move into the experience and not remain in the literal.

I believe all art has this ability. I remember the day I stood in front of the David during a trip to Florence. My eyes filled with tears and I wept at the pure power and beauty of it. Embarrassed, I quickly wiped my tears, as the security guard smiled and informed me that, “This happens all the time.” Mystical. Transformational.

We must wait for these moments and appreciate them deeply when they happen. For it is in the mystical experience that we expand - not simply in the intellectual analytics of the moment. During these mystical moments we experience joy and awe. We also experience the suffering of God, Spirit and All That Is. Unified. At one. Art has this ability and Sacred Art can hang in museums and it can be found in the suffering portraits we see in the news. The world houses this sacredness - if we are willing to experience it.

While we struggle in these difficult days, the images we are bombarded by can be soul-shattering as we take in and experience the suffering they represent. We all become Kuan Yin - she who weeps for the world - as our hearts take in the pain and sorrow.

Yes, the crucifixion is one experience of mystical grace; as is gazing upon a mandala, the Scrolls, Vishnu, a sunset or the faces of lost children. But we must take them in; we must experience them and not simply intellectualize them. The wholeness of all that joy - and all that suffering - that wholeness is us!

Grace-Fully Yours,
Reverend Deborah

Monthly Affirmation: I pause. I experience the mystical moment of Grace. Here. Now

The Reverend Dr. Deborah Darlington supports the spiritual journey of people from all faith traditions. If you would like to engage in Spiritual Direction within a safe and nurturing place, email her at or call: 215 260 1611.