PAINTING



Wilfried Joye

MEDITATION

Bernie Mullen

'MATHAPELO’ (Woman of Prayer)

In my Father's House...
Introduction:

Wilfried Joye was born in Dadizele, Belgium in 1939. He was ordained a priest in 1964 in the order of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He has been working as a missionary in Potchfestroom in South Africa since 1966. He has often been exhibited in S A and in Belgium and his paintings often portray rural life and the human situation. His works are vibrant and appealing and he uses the fish as his symbol in most of his works. This is because the fish represents insight (it never closes its eyes) these remain open for the reception of life and truth. The mouth of the fish is always readily open and this symbolises capacity for the ‘food of life’ in its purity and fullness. The paintings of Joye are often religious and he presents to the world a journey of deep faith, the sacredness of life and the joy of hope. Fr Joye was a close friend of Fr Frans Claerhout and he often exhibited with him in South Africa and internationally.


Opening prayer-poem:

I sit in grateful contemplation
Of this sacred cup of tea.
My senses savour its rich aroma
My eyes fixed upon its brown, gold glow.
This tea is paradise for me.
My hands embrace the welling warmth;
Its given gift of comfort most profound.
My being in simple worship
The wonder of its bequest perceives.
This tea is paradise for me…

I sit in grateful contemplation
Of this sacred bench of leaning.
It freely lends its wooden friendship
To my work- worn body:
This bench is paradise for me.
I feel its gift of sanctuary and support.
My elbow finds a niche and nestles
In its generous grounding.
My being does, with reverence and with thanks,
Its gentle rest receive.
This bench is paradise for me…

I sit in grateful contemplation
Of this firm, cool floor
My shoes and feet
Are guests of quiet care.
This floor is paradise for me…
My spirit’s quiet homed
Upon its firm patched face,
Finds the grace of gentle sleep.
My being is held in ecstasy,
In recognition of the simple beauty
Of all created comforts for my need:
This floor is paradise for me…

I sit in silent contemplation
Of my sacred poverty
For in its daily grieving
I have all life’s most sacred offerings received.
This poverty is paradise for me…

Pause for reflection:

Centring Music:
‘Sacred’
From CD: A woman’s Voice 11
Sung by Muriel
How would I treat myself
If I thought I was sacred?
How would I love myself
If nothing was wrong?
I’d be in the moment
Enjoying what is inside
And sing to the world
A glorious song..

How would you treat yourself
If you thought you were sacred
How would you love yourself
If nothing was wrong?
You’d be in the moment
Enjoying what is inside
And sing to the world
A glorious song…

You are sacred
You are sacred
You are sacred
You are sacred

How would we treat ourselves
If we thought we were sacred?
How would we love ourselves
If nothing was wrong?
We’d be in the moment
Enjoying what is inside
And sing to the world
A glorious song…

Pause for reflection:

Scripture Reading:
From The First Book of Kings: 17:7-16
‘The stream in the place where Elijah lay hidden dried up, for the country had no rain. And then the word of the Lord came to Elijah, ‘Up and go to Zarephath, a Sidonian town, and stay there. I have ordered a widow there to give you food. So he went off to Sidon. And when he reached the city gate, there was a widow gathering sticks; addressing her, he said, Please bring a little water in a vessel for me to drink.’ She was setting off to bring it when he called after her. ‘Please’ he said, ‘bring me a scrap of bread in your hand.’ ‘As the Lord your God lives,’ she replied’ I have no baked bread, but only a handful of meal in a jar and a little oil in a jug; I am just gathering a stick or two to go and prepare this for myself and my son to eat, and then we shall die.’ But Elijah said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, go and do as you have said, but first make a little scone of it for me and bring it to me, and then make for yourself and for your son. For thus the Lord speaks, the God of Israel:

‘Jar of meal shall not be spent,
Jug of oil shall not be emptied
Before the day when the Lord sends
Rain on the face of the earth’

The woman went and did as Elijah told her and they ate the food, she, himself and her son. The jar of meal was not spent nor the jug of oil emptied, just as the Lord had foretold through Elijah.

Pause for reflection:

This painting quietens our whole being and immediately leaves us stuck for words to describe its affect. It magnifies for us the grace and dignity of life’s little and simple comforts. It stills us into the deep silence of appreciation.

What we first notice is the over sized shoulder, arm and cup. And then the woman’s beautiful countenance captures us. Her eyes are intently focused on the gift of tea. Her nostrils are wide with appreciation of its aroma and her lips are about to part in the pleasure of its flavour that the woman is about to be experience. It is almost as though she is bound by a moment of full ecstasy. The act of raising the cup to its final destination of enjoyment emphasises this. It looks frozen in its would be final movement. The woman herself seems frozen in anticipation as though the thought of the flavour and the comfort of its warmth is as much part of the pleasure as in fact tasting it. We could as the woman does, remain in the beauty of the moment forever. We feel that we are in the presence of what is essentially sacred: the delight in the very simple things of life no matter in what circumstances we encounter them.

Pause for reflection

Prayer:
Turn your face to me, O Lord…
With my empty cup of want
Release me from my worries
From the pain of my poverty
Lift my spirit into the wonder
Of your great abundance
Turn your face to me, O lord…

Pause for reflection

It is not only these observations that so compellingly intrigue us. It is also the solidity of the lime-green bench on which the woman is so fully seated, her out-sized knee and bulging thigh and her shock absorbing shoes that all speak of hard labour. These all tell volumes and profoundly feed our contemplation. We note too that the foot on the left is huge and is in contrast to the small drooping shoulder and the more proportionate hand and slender leg. So what, we wonder, are these deliberate disproportionate presentations about?

Perhaps through the woman’s obvious circumstantial poverty, Joye is challenging us to root ourselves in what is essential for our well being. Perhaps we are being asked to shed our dedication to the material and to what clutters our lives with so called success and ‘indispensable’ comfort. Wea re asked rather to appreciate more what are our real needs. This woman reveals to us that even material poverty is not to be negated, not to be shunned and shamed by dismissive blindness and social guilt.

Pause for reflection:

Prayer:

Turn your face to me, O Lord…
With my empty cup of want
Release me from my worries
From the pain of my poverty
Lift my spirit into the wonder
Of your great abundance
Let my eyes appreciate
The wonder of all that surrounds me
Let my heart receive the simplicity
Of love expressed
In all that has being
In all that gifts being
In all that exudes beauty
Turn your face to me O Lord…

Pause for reflection

Perhaps the simple flower-pattered wall helps to integrate the emotional effect that this depiction of joy in poverty has on us. All the hues of blue present in the cup and saucer are present in the wall décor. This draws together the simplicity of the scene, the simplicity of the life on display and the beauty and indeed necessity of spiritual poverty. We need depend on it as surely as the woman depends on a cup of tea to refresh her completely. It is as though we are reminded of the fact that God does provide all that is good for us all that leads us to trust, to hope and ultimately to pure love.

The saucer too has its effecting place and role. It deserves equal attention. It is held with dignity and respect. It remains simply receptive and open to all that it may support and all it may in turn receive. Its rounded shape speaks of unity and eternity. It has no beginning or end. It is simply there to be used and admired for its unsophisticated existence. It perfectly partners the cup. We are offered an image of pure prayer: God’s partnering in us. We too are held most carefully and most reverently in God’s hand. We open ourselves to God’s purpose. We too become ‘Mathapelo'; women and men of prayer. We become channels of peace and love. We become simple and poor in all that gets in God’s way with us.

Pause for reflection:

Prayer:

Turn your face to me, O Lord…
With my empty cup of want
Release me from my worries
From the pain of my poverty
Lift my spirit into the wonder
Of your great abundance
Turn your face to me O Lord…

Let my eyes appreciate
The wonder of all that surrounds me
Let my heart receive the simplicity of
Of love expressed
In all that has being
In all that gifts being
In all that exudes beauty
Turn your face to me O Lord…
Let my spirit rejoice
In the light of your grace
In the splendour of creation
In the little joys of life
In the vast breathing of infinity
In the home of my heart
Turn your face to me O Lord…

Pause for reflection

Closing music:

‘Pepo Iko’
From CD: ‘Forever’ (Beautiful World)
Wea: WICD 5235

Translated Lyrics:

Paradise is in this world
Paradise is here and now
Paradise is in your heart
If paradise isn’t in you r heart
You might as well be blind…


Copyright © 2009 Wilfried Joye. All Rights Reserved.

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