This Lent I am using Sister Wendy Beckett’s ‘The Art of Lent’ as my daily devotional. Each day offers a work of art and a short thought. Each Sunday I will share what has struck me most during the week.
My favourite painting this week was Baby in Red Chair by an unknown artist. It’s not the one I’d most like to hang on my wall – that honour would probably go to Monet’s White Clematis – but I do like it as an image of sheer contentment.
I remember seeing this look on my little one’s face, when he fell asleep in my arms as a small baby. If it is an expression of joy as Sister Wendy suggests, it is a quiet joy which comes from an absolute confidence that all is well with the world.
That kind of joy is easier to come by when a bellyful of milk and a safe pair of arms will solve any fear and ease any pain, when there are no tasks or bills to worry about and the horrors of the world pass by unnoticed, but I don’t think it slips beyond our reach when we leave infancy.
If my baby’s joy came from a certainty that he was held and loved, we can recapture that joy by allowing ourselves to know the truth that we too are held and loved.
I recently read about Kate Wharton, an Anglican vicar who has been called to a life of celibacy and writes powerfully about her experience of the blessings and burdens of singleness. She recently had a ceremony in which she made vows to God in the presence of family and friends, one of whom performed the following spoken word piece. It speaks beautifully of being loved, and so I offer it to you know as a source of immense joy.
He speaks so powerfully life itself is created in a breath.
And like chemistry, stars are breathed into being as he gathers dust in the palm of his hands,
And before you were anyone’s good idea or twinkle in the eye,
You were alive in Him.
You were named, known, crafted, your soul was designed,
And you were shaped to be loved, to live pruned back and set free
From day one you were doted upon into eternity,
The whisper of his Spirit to you, the whisper on the breeze speaks, “You are beloved, be loved.”
We are full. So full of his promise and presence and power
It’s like we are clay jars, a simple vessel,
But like a vase full of flowers we stand tall,
We blossom in our fruitfulness,
So grateful in the Son’s light for his unwavering faithfulness,
Satisfied like fresh water to a thirsty soul,
Nourished by your word, your truth, you’ll never let us go,
And so we grow, through harsh seasons and new mornings,
Through late night tears and laughters dawning,
In the look-me-in-the-eye passion that our Father made us for,
Like an anchor in our souls, holding firm and secure,
That allows us to walk brave and free, vulnerable and bold,
Whilst all the while the whisper echoes from those days of old “You are beloved, be loved.”
Kissed by fire,
The heavens break open and his presence descends
And we breathe, for glory and in grace we are drenched, renewed, changed
He is mercy and justice, he is fierceness and kindness,
He instills in us a bigger heart, a wider stretch for welcome arms,
And in him we are home and make home, finding peace where we are,
Yet we call in one more to find hope in the dark,
Giving away the gift of belonging,
Knowing family is an open invite to the upside-down kingdom
And we won’t quit, we won’t build walls, we won’t close down or grip tight,
We pray keep this heart soft and strong, help me shine out your light
So like neon signs in clouded skies the call of God will shine “You are beloved, be loved.”
“You are beloved, be loved.”
(writtten by Miriam Swaffield for Kate Wharton’s beLOVED ceremony – taken from Kate’s blog)