Lifelong Faith Formation Connections

Welcome to Our Faith Formation Newsletter!
April 23 , 2020
Thought for the Month
Healing Thoughts

How are you doing?
I really wish I could ask each one of you this question. During the uncertainty, upheaval, and confusion of this strange time I would love to know how you REALLY are and if your faith is being challenged or deepened? Has your relationship with God changed? Intensified? Expanded? I'm sure it would be enriching to discuss how you are experiencing this time.
There is a group, "Journey to Healing," I meet with regularly. I think of them as my "healing friends." Several had been to a conference on the topic and felt called to reach out to a few others to continue the dialogue about healing in our lives.
I do not remember exactly how I got involved. I did not feel a special need for healing when I said "yes." But each day into this pandemic I realize the collective need for healing is pervasive right now. Physical healing. Emotional healing. Spiritual healing.
I believe in God's design for us, individually and for the world-- a paradise where love is the ethic, serving is the work, and Christ is our companion. In this pandemic of illness, I see an invitation to healing from what keeps us from embracing this reality-- that our God is always with us. And that changes everything.
I want to share a peek into this healing group that I have experienced. Laura Smyczek, editor of this newsletter, has a love of and expertise in art history. In the group she shares some thoughts about this beautiful picture you see below. I hope you will "see" in it a prayer, as she describes it to us.
I think it is fair to say we are all in a collective storm right now. I believe that can be an invitation to radical trust, if we remember our God is in the boat with us! Always wanting to transform our fears into trust, in a relationship of perfect peace.
Hope to hear from you! Sending love and healing thoughts,
The miraculous story of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee has been painted dozens of times by various artists over the centuries. One of the most famous is this one by Rembrandt van Rijn, Storm on the Sea of Galilee
painted in 1633.

In Mark 4:35-41, we read about the disciples onboard a boat with Jesus when a violent squall blows in. Jesus is asleep, and his disciples wake him. Jesus calms the storm and asks his followers, "Why are you terrified? Do you not have faith?" They are awestruck.
We see the disciples full of fear, desperation, and helplessness before the uncontrollable forces of nature. Jesus teaches them, and us, the value of faith.
The line of the sail divides the painting in half. In cutting through the middle of the painting, we could say that this idea of salvation gifted to us by Christ on the cross cuts through everything else we know. It is the one true thing that can save us in our woundedness, in our dread, and in our longing.
The bright light draws our eye to the left side of the painting, where a fisherman is in the bow, busy trying to fix the main sail, which has been torn by the wind. Four of the disciples frantically try to save their vessel by holding on to the sail. The mast is clearly in the shape of a cross-- symbolic of Jesus' promise of salvation-and these men appear to be hanging on to it for dear life. Just to the right of them, there's one man who is sitting quietly with his back to us who doesn't seem to be affected by the chaos surrounding him.
What are the other men doing? They have gone to Jesus and asked, "Do you not care that we are perishing?" Jesus looks calm, knowing that God is with them. Look closely to see the one disciple kneeling at Jesus' feet, showing reverence and trust in his Lord.
Above that group is a man looking frightened and unsure of what to do. Then, there's another one at the helm of the boat, on the far right of the painting, appearing grief-stricken. He is trying to steer the boat as he holds on to the tiller, yet he looks fairly hopeless, knowing that he is unable to make a difference by himself. Another looks like he's going to be sick.
Then, we have the figure positioned between the light and the dark, in a blue coat, thought to be a self-portrait of the artist. He looks right out at us, holding on to the rigging, a little lost. Perhaps he's asking us to find ourselves in the Gospel story and attempting to inspire us in faith.
So, where are you in the painting? Which character do you identify with most right now? Are you trying to fix your pain? Are you barely hanging on? Afraid? Ready to meet God? Do you feel sick? Are you angry at God? Are you worshipping the Lord? Are you feeling alone? Lost? Hopeless? Powerless in the face of the global pandemic?
We can bring ourselves to God-- our pain, our wounds, our sins, our hopes. And just as Jesus brought peace to the sea, the storm, and the disciples, he can bring peace to us in the midst of our own storms. He is in the boat with us, and our faith in him brings healing, peace and love.

Laura Smyczek
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