One of my spiritual mentors first introduced me to this dynamic painting by Eugène Burnand entitled “The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection” (1898) which hangs in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris. It’s a visual meditation on John 20:3 “Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb” [after hearing the report of Mary that Jesus was alive].
For me the painting invites me to hope, seeing the rapidly evolving, pregnant with possibility, light of dawn. It’s a painting that easily lends itself to the spiritual practice of Visio Divina (“divine vision”). It’s an intentional way of guided prayer or spiritual contemplation.
Taking 20-30 minutes for this spiritual practice is optimal, and you may not have the time, or inclination, to do that today. You can go through the guided prayer quicker, although it may not allow for the expansion and depth that can happen in a long sacred gaze.
Here’s a simple how to:
Begin with a few moments of prayer, focusing on your breathing, silencing your mind, opening yourself to what God has to give you. Then You begin by slowly looking and noticing the image, taking your time to let feelings and thoughts come to you as you take in forms, figures, colors, lines, textures, and shapes.
What does it look like, or remind you of? What do you find yourself drawn to? What do you like and not like? What are your initial thoughts? What feelings are evoked?
Simply notice these responses without judgment or evaluation.
Return to the image with an open heart and mind. New thoughts, meanings, and feelings may arise as you ponder; initial impressions may expand and deepen. Explore more fully the meanings or feelings that come to you in your going. Ponder prayerfully the reason of the responses that spring up within you.
What might the Spirit of God be wanting to say, evoke, make known, or express to you as you practice this divine vision in meditation?
Do your responses evoke in you any salient meanings or values, or remind you of an important event or season, or suggest a new or different way of being?
Close the time by responding to God and what the Spirit has awakened within you, it might be wonder, confession, lament, joy, gratitude, or an invitation to action.