How have you experienced God’s presence through a creative experience?
Read Chapter Two: Creative Lands and the Beauty I Ache to See—Woman Overboard: How Passion Saved My Life, 39.
Christ’s Presence and Character
Google the painting by Italian artist Caravaggio titled The Incredulity of Saint Thomas. Stare at the painting for a few minutes. Notice what’s happening in it, what story is being told, which characters are portrayed, and where they stand. What do you see? This painting depicts the story from John 20:24-29, where Thomas, once full of courage and devotion, is not present with the other disciples as the resurrected Christ appears to them. Thomas can’t bear to believe that Christ is risen; he doesn’t believe his friends when they tell him Christ is indeed alive. He announces, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe” (v. 25). And to everyone’s amazement, Christ obliges! Caravaggio’s painting beautifully captures the tender grace of forgiveness in a scene where Thomas is moved to exclaim one of the most powerful personal acknowledgments in scripture: “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28). What stands out to you in Caravaggio’s painting and gives you new insight about Christ’s presence and character?
Acceptance and Transformation
Imagine joining Caravaggio in his studio as he reads the story of Thomas. Consider how Caravaggio might reflect on Thomas being brought back into relationship with the risen Christ, then watch him proceed to paint each character in this profound scene. What do you think he wanted to portray? How does this painting and the story of Jesus and Thomas affect you? Reflect in your journal on the ways you have seen—or would like to see—Jesus guide you into a place of acceptance and transformation.
Respond Creatively in Prayer
Living God, thank you for breathing new life into dead souls and for imparting life-giving talents to artists and writers, musicians and teachers so that they may help others know you better. Thank you for taking my doubts and turning them into faith so that I might trust you more each day. Help me believe in the power of your daily presence so that I might creatively respond to your goodness and kindness. Amen.
Discussion with Friends and Family:
Deepen Your Faith
The gritty nature of Caravaggio’s painting has sometimes offended people or disrupted their image of the risen Christ. Discuss your initial response to it and how it affected your perspective of Jesus. In what ways does it challenge or deepen your faith? What other paintings or works of art (plays, films, novels) have affected your relationship with God? Share how these creative expressions have helped you better experience God’s presence.