May: Creative Contemplation

The goal of contemplative practices is to develop deep intimacy with God, but sitting still and silently meditating isn't the only way to do that. Our unique gifts, talents, heritages, and cultures all contribute to how we uniquely draw near to God. So, to celebrate this (and hopefully inspire you to contemplate more creatively), each month we'll post a different piece of art along with some reflecting questions.

Some months this will be a song, a poem, a painting, a video, or a sculpture. Some months the piece will resonate deeply with you, some months it may upset you, and some months it may confuse you. Lean into whatever feelings the piece stirs up and allow it to draw you nearer to God's heart and expose your own. 

This Creative Contemplation is brought to you by Laura Di Panfilo, a Leader in The Abbey. You can connect with Laura on Instagram.  

“Christ Bearing the Cross” by   Nicolaos Tzafouris

“Christ Bearing the Cross” by Nicolaos Tzafouris


This month we will try a meditation with our eyes open by looking at this image of Christ carrying the cross created by Nicholas Tzafouris in the 15th century.  The persistent widow teaches us about persistent prayer and faith in Jesus even when things are hard. This image of Jesus carrying the cross reminds me of the parable because here we see an image of the persistence of Christ in the face of adversity.  Icons have been used for centuries as images of contemplation and prayer. Many people consider yoga a meditation in motion, a prayer that involves the entire body and breath. Some people also like to pray with pictures or icons. Icons are not simply beautiful pieces of art but are also used to help us pray.  I know an iconographer who once told me that when she is done creating a new icon, she lets it sit in her studio and she prays with it before sending it to its new home. The images stir her to prayer and she considers them companions on the journey.

Find a quiet space.  Perhaps turn the wifi off on your computer or phone and allow yourself to get comfortable.

Stare at the icon for a moment, perhaps a moment longer than you might normally look at it.  What jumps out to you?

Close your eyes and try to imagine the icon.  What do you remember from it?

Feel free to open your eyes and try praying to Jesus while looking at an image of Jesus.