PAINTING



Wilfried Joye

MEDITATION

Bernie Mullen

Psalm 131

A Meditation on prayer
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, small child am boxed;
Framed, embodied; substance
Of your mother-being.
I rest, in peaceful sleep
And unaware, I receive
Your loving, gentle care.
I am locked in love
And live within its heart
Enfolded and so safely
In your Silence.
In you, I will learn to know
The ’who’ of me,
The mystery of you…

I, mother of you, new small child,
Am breathing in the sacred scene
I am humbled by the grace of holding;
Of birthing, love’s most precious, living fruit
Here, within my being.
Formed, entombed the life
Awaiting Love’s full birth.
You are, small person,
Delivered from my womb.
In you, the God of Life
I breathe, I move, I am
More than I can conceive.

Great God of beauty born and given,
In poor simplicity, in awe most ponderous
I thus your life receive.
Great God of Love and of Life
Keep me in your Sacred Heart
And within your own prayer-breath
Keep me always humble.
From the eyes of pride
Keep me always hidden…

Centring Music:

‘Be Still For The Presence Of The Lord’
CD: Angel Voices: The St Phillips Boy’s Choir
CD: MCCDX 001

Pause for reflection:

Scripture Reading:

Mark: 12: 41-44

As Jesus sat near the temple treasury, he watched people as they dropped in their money. Many rich men dropped in a lot of money; then a poor widow came and dropped in two little copper coins, worth about a penny. He called his disciples together and said to them, ‘I tell you, that this poor widow put more in the offering box that all the others. For the others put in what they had to spare of their riches; but she, poor as she is, put in all she had- she gave all she had to live on…’

Pause for reflection:

It is the sacred unity and awareness of the woman’s profound role reflected in her humble and contemplative posture that draws us so deeply into this painting of Psalm 131. Wilfried Joye captivates with deeply spiritual and emotional connotations the awesome gift of giving life and caring for it. Not only does he do this but he also comforts us with a deep sense of security, in mothering and in being mothered. Both protagonists are provided with all they need to love and to be loved and indeed they give all one to the other.

Pause for reflection

Prayer: Psalm 131

Lord, my heart is not proud
Nor my eyes haughty…

Pause for reflection

Her infant, in unaware bliss, is closed and protected from all other reality than that of peaceful sleep. Nothing disturbs, nothing disrupts, and nothing demands anything more than the little one’s capabilities. The child is capable, at this stage, of very simple life, of total dependence, complete trust and with instinctive understanding of this being all that is required. It is this attitude of complete surrender to all that surrounds and protects, that makes growth from physical and spiritual infancy, possible.

Pause for reflection:

Prayer:

Lord, my heart is not proud;
Nor are my eyes haughty.
I do not busy myself with great matters,
With things too sublime for me.
Lord, my heart is not proud…

Pause for reflection

In staying with the image of the babe, Joye graphically explains to us how intimately, how assuredly and naturally it is held and known. This is how God is with us. This is how God knows and holds us. We notice that there are no obvious lines that separate the child from the mother. Her broad and ample shoulder that shields and encloses the one who is loved, flows easily into the nestling home. Even the flow and shape of the child’s cap helps to speak of total contemplation and unity. Nothing in this relationship is out of place or strained.

Pause for reflection:

Prayer:

Lord, my heart is not proud;
Nor are my eyes haughty.
I do not busy myself with great matters,
With things too sublime for me.
Rather, I have stilled my soul,
Hushed it like a weaned child.
Lord, my heart is not proud…

Pause for reflection

In focusing on the mother we experience great compassion, empathy and care. Her figure also invokes a sense of longing. Her round head that rests with cheek so close against her child emphasises a holy bonding and absolute unicity. Her facial features engender appreciation and total awareness. She is enraptured by loving commitment and tenderness. Her lowered eyes express sacred revelation or perhaps holy awe. They also speak of profound awareness and humility. She looks with immeasurable love, at her child. This woman knows she is called to what may be considered very ordinary and very routine but she is also aware of what love’s natural outcome means: The birth and outpouring of life. This has both spiritual and physical aspects. This is the giving of all that one is and has. Response is total and therefore so is responsibility. The woman, like the one that gave her two copper coins has given all to Love.

Pause for reflection

Prayer:

Lord, my heart is not proud;
Nor are my eyes haughty.
I do not busy myself with great matters,
With things too sublime for me.
Rather, I have stilled my soul,
Hushed it like a weaned child.
Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap,
So is my soul within me.
Lord, my heart is not proud…

Pause for reflection

Perhaps what emphasises Joye’s statement about complete trust and how this translates into loving service and response, is the mother’s infinitely tender and slender hand. It embraces not only the child but covers both hearts that beat in such unison. It also completes the unity circle that arches from head to shoulders to form the ring of relationship. The shoulder on our right forms a fortress from harm. The mother takes on all that will burden and threaten.

Finally, Joye uses colour to complete the painting and our spiritual journey into contemplation. First he frames the pair in softer and deeper shades of green that speak to us of earth and what is natural. He links us inevitably to earthiness by using the same shades for skin and sky. We are knitted into our world. We are also an inseparable part of it. We are also an inseparable part of heaven or what is spiritual and of God.

It is Joye’s use of paler blues that journey into deep indigo that so profoundly tell us that we are meant to live not only with God, but in God. We are born into the heart of God when we pray the prayer of the humble in our daily circumstances. Indeed we do not need to busy ourselves with great matters that are too sublime for us. We need to allow God to do that in us. When we allow this we are sublime and in heaven.

Pause for reflection

Lord, my heart is not proud;
Nor are my eyes haughty.
I do not busy myself with great matters,
With things too sublime for me.
Rather, I have stilled my soul,
Hushed it like a weaned child.
Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap,
So is my soul within me.
Israel, hope in the Lord,
Now and forever.

Closing music:

‘Sing a Song of Joy’
Angel Voices: St Phillips Choir: CD: MCCDX 001


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