Praying the Ocean Icons
I’m writing a brochure (maybe an app?) called "How to Have a Quiet Spiritual Visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium." I've already collected tips on where to find places to sit in the dark and pray ("Pretend the seat in the cephalopods exhibit is a prayer bench and meditate on the octopus.") Also a list of all the inspiring wall quotations ("Read the Thoreau quotation – ‘In wildness is the preservation of the world’ - several times and ask God to bless and keep the wildness in the sea and the wildness in your soul.")
Now I'm locating "icons" to venerate. Icons are small intense holy paintings that many people include in their spiritual practice by contemplating them long and intently, not for their artistic value, but as “doors between this world and another, between humankind and God,” as one author puts it. To contemplate an icon is “to gaze into heaven.” Such images are “visual prompts for our prayers.”
This Kelp Forest round window is a “visual prayer prompt,” helping this young worshipper gaze into heaven, and opening for her the door to another world. When I saw this medieval Italian painting of the Creation at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC I experienced a new heaven and earth. Note how the earth is round and blue.
The writer of Colossians calls Christ the “icon,” the visible image of the invisible God. A door, a prompt. I call these blue circles “icons of paradise.”