‘Keep head, eyes and heart focussed in the same direction.‘
Henri Cartier Bresson
‘Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.’
Hildegard of Bingen:
Hildegard was a 12th century German abbess with considerable literary and music skills, who was much sought after for her wise counsel. She shows us the importance of being attentive to the ordinary everyday happenings because they have the potential to reveal great spiritual truths. In her Sequences and Hymns she relates this story:
‘Listen: there was once a king sitting on his throne. Around him stood great and wonderfully beautiful columns ornamented with ivory, bearing the banners of the king with great honour. Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along. Thus am I, a feather on the breath of God.’
As you look at the image, consider without judgement but with awareness:
What ground am I lying on? What does it look like? What does it feel like?
What kind of feather am I? May be you see yourself as a small downy feather that is usually hidden as it provides essential warmth. Or maybe you see yourself as a strong wing feather that usually beats through the air, or a tail feather that helps steer direction and control the speed, or ...?
What is it like to be lying on the ground?
You might want to actually lie down on the ground. Take time to let your body feel this.
What is it that has caused me to be here?
Is it a need for rest? What am I hoping for or perhaps fearing as I lie here?
Take your time to then tell God about this. You might want to do it in words either spoken out aloud or perhaps written in a journal. You might also want to express it visually - drawing, painting, writing - using different media such as pens, pastels, calligraphy, paint ...
One of the Old Testament prophets in the Bible, Isaiah, encouraged people in exile with these words:
‘Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.’ Isaiah 40: 31
Can I, like Hildegard, recognise that if I am to fly, then I have to be hollow, in the sense of having an inner spaciousness? The demanding false self has to be surrendered if I am to experience something of this lightness of touch. To be a feather on the breath of God is to know that I have no being unless God gives it to me.
What might it be like to be carried along by the breath of God?
What might it be like to be near enough to God to catch the uplift?
There is a need for deep trust as I risk complete surrender and trust that I will be carried to where I need to be. Without this trust and surrender I will not become airborne.
What might it be like to be a feather on the breath of God?