Arts & Faith: Easter Imaginative Prayer Exercise

Canterbury Cathedral, detail of Redemption Window (center), Corona Chapel, East End Corona I, detail of the Resurrection of Christ, Gothic stained glass, c. 1200–1207, England. Image: Photographer Allan Kohl. Used with permission from Peregrinations: Journal of Medieval Art & Architecture.

Happy Easter! Today, we provide an Ignatian prayer for you, inspired by the Arts & Faith: Easter video. The video and prayer for Easter Sunday are based on John 20:1–9. The art is an early 13th-century stained-glass depiction of the Resurrection in Canterbury Cathedral’s Corona Chapel.

Preparation

Prepare for a period of meditation by sitting comfortably, closing your eyes, and breathing deeply for a moment or two. Allow any present concerns to move across your mind and wait off to the side for now.

The Path

You realize how bright it is all around you. You blink a few times and then see that you are on a hill outdoors. You stand there in the breeze and sunshine, and slowly turn to take in your surroundings. To your horror, you see, directly behind you, another rise of the land and scaffolding on top of it—this is where Jesus was crucified. As those gruesome images come back to you, someone touches your shoulder lightly.

You turn to see Jesus standing there, smiling. He is not bloody. He is not a corpse. And he’s not a ghost—his hand still rests on your shoulder, and it’s a real hand. In fact, you notice the deep scar where the spike was driven. This is Jesus, risen from the dead. You know this, but it’s still quite unbelievable.

Then he turns you away from the scaffolding to look in the opposite direction. It’s mid-spring, and the hills are greening. In this part of the world, for a brief week or two, all sorts of wildflowers bloom at once and turn the hills vivid with color. That is happening now. Jesus, his hand still on your shoulder, is motioning toward the spring scene with the other hand. “Look!” he says.

“Yes, Lord,” you say. “Everything is new.”

“But there’s more.” He points a bit to the left of center, and you see a thin path running up and over one hill after another.

“I see,” you say. “A path.”

“Not just any path,” he says. “This is your path.”

“Really?” You strain to see the end of the path, far, far from here. “Where does it go?”

“I can’t tell you that. You can learn the way only by walking it.”

“You mean, I must trust the path to God. It’s my choice to put my feet on it and walk.”

His smile grows and seems to add light to the day. “I had to trust my path to God, too.”

“It went some pretty bad places.”

“Yes, but the Father was there.”

“But I’m not you, Jesus. I’m not as faithful or strong or close to the Father.”

“The Spirit goes with you. And grace will be at every turn.”

Jesus hugs you—a long, reassuring, joyful embrace—and then bids you goodbye and walks off in another direction. He turns his head enough to call back to you: “I’ll be with you too!”

You can see that the path—your path—begins just a few yards from where you stand. You go to that starting place and raise up on tip-toes, hoping to see at least the first few twists and turns of your future. But the hill just ahead hides all this information. You are left with the simple question:

Will I go, or stay here?

Concluding Prayer

Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.

If you’re receiving this via e-mail, click through to watch the video Arts & Faith: Easter.

About Vinita Hampton Wright 105 Articles
Vinita Hampton Wright has served as senior editor at Loyola Press for 16 years and recently became managing editor of the trade books department. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places with HarperOne, Days of Deepening Friendship and The Art of Spiritual Writing for Loyola Press, and most recently, The St. Teresa of Avila Prayer Book for Paraclete Press. Vinita is a student and practitioner of Ignatian spirituality, and from 2009 to 2015 she blogged at Days of Deepening Friendship. For the past few years, she has co-led small groups through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. She lives in Chicago with her husband, three cats, and a dog. In her “spare” time these days, she is working on her next novel.

4 Comments on Arts & Faith: Easter Imaginative Prayer Exercise

  1. Many thanks for this and all the Easter Prayer Exercises. I am still getting used tot he idea of imagining myself in the story but thanks for your help. I pray that I will take the path even though I know I will stumble along the way. Jesus has promised to be with me. I thank God for that

  2. Thank you so much for this, a vivid way to see my path onward with God – on which I know I will stumble, but with great reassurance of His presence.

  3. Please accept my heartfelt gratitude for offering this opportunity to pray in such an imaginative way….both with Vinita’s relfection and with the beautiful narrative explaing the signficance of the images in the stained glass windows….somethings have “broken open” for me. Thank you, thank you.

  4. I so look forward to the Art and Faith meditations! I often wish there were more. The artwork brings forth a contemplative experience and appreciation that I have not taken advantage of before. Thank you!

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