We’ve developed a tradition here at The Well where each summer we offer something a little different to our audience — something to support the work of rest, restoration, and preparation that we hope is part of the season’s different rhythms.
This year we are offering our Summer 2021 Visio Divina Series. You can read more about this practice in our introduction to the series. Today, we'll take a close look at a piece by artist Yayoi Kusama.
Yayoi Kusama, Ready to Blossom in the Morning, (1989, Acrylic on Canvas). Copyright 1989 Yayoi Kusama, Fair Use doctrine.
Week 7: Ready to Blossom in the Morning
Questions for visio divina
- As you begin, take a few deep breaths. While we know God is always with us, invite the Holy Spirit to be present and to speak to you afresh in these moments. Spend some time looking at the image. What do you see? Similar to doing Bible study, make as many observations as you can. What do you like or dislike? Why? What questions do you have?
- How does the artist use color, light, style, composition, and material? What do you think the artist wanted to communicate? What stands out to you? Why do you think this is so?
- Read Matthew 6:19-34. How does this add to what you are seeing? Is there other Scripture that comes to mind?
- Spend some time reflecting on the Scripture passage and looking again at today’s image. What is God’s invitation to you? What might you need to see, understand, or believe? How does your current life experience intersect with what you are seeing and reflecting on? How might this image help you pray today? What do you want to say to God? Ask from him?
Scripture passage: Matthew 6:19-34
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
There are certain images used in Scripture that are so engraved on my heart and mind that I have a hard time NOT recalling them when I encounter them in life. The lily is one such image. Yayoi Kusama, known as the Queen of Polka Dots, has “considered the lily” in her quintessential style. Two lilies float across a backdrop of red dots. More dots appear in their stems and in the open lily we notice them on its anthers, stigma, petals, and throat. Have you ever looked into the center of a Stargazer Lily? They really are breathtakingly beautiful and Kusama has captured that beauty here in the opened blossom which is quite life-like as compared to the bright and playful colors she uses in the rest of the painting. Her use of color along with all the dots produces a spirit of lightheartedness and fun which makes me smile.
The words of Jesus in Matthew 6 also make me smile. But not because the lilies he mentions are whimsical or humorous, but because his words are so reassuring. While Yayoi Kusama may not be referencing or responding to the Scripture, Ready to Blossom in the Morning engages my heart and mind and her lilies invite my reflection.
Lilies are intricate and beautiful. Jesus says that the beauty of the lily is greater than King Solomon in all of his royal splendor. Consider the lilies. Don’t pass them by. Don’t merely notice or admire them. Consider them. Look at them. So much loveliness, but it is fleeting. Whether in my yard or a vase on my kitchen table, lilies last only a few days at most. Jesus presses the point — if God allows something of his glory and majesty and beauty to be reflected in this flower whose lifespan is so short, will he not make sure that those who bear his image are clothed and cared for?
When I am tempted to wonder how things are going to turn out — if I am going to have what I need for the days ahead, even the basics — Jesus tells me to think about the lilies. He tells me (verse 32) that God is my loving Father and he knows what I need. And he invites me to seek his kingdom — to spend my time and energy loving God and my neighbor instead of worrying about the things that God has said he will provide. There is lots of uncertainty in the days ahead. It is not clear to me how things are going to work out on a lot of fronts. But the invitation to look at the lily and to remember God’s care for me helps me leave all that in God’s hands and to trust him to care for me and to do what is in front of me today.
Heavenly Father, along with the heavens and the lilies, we declare your glory and stand in awe of you - the amazing Creator whose majesty and splendor and beauty are seen in all that you have made. As we look at the flowers around us we are reminded not only of your beauty, but also your care for all you have made including us, your children. Thank you for your promise to meet all of our needs as we join you in the work you are doing in our world. We confess it is a lot easier to worry than to trust. Help us to cast all of our anxieties on you and give us grace in our weakness. Amen.
Two suggestions if worrying is something you struggle with
First: Memorize the passage above and when things are particularly difficult, consider buying a few lilies and putting them on your desk or table. Alstroemeria, by the way, is in the lily family and is quite reasonably priced.
Second: Write a paraphrase of Matthew 6:19-34 that reflects your context and things you are prone to worry about. I did this a number of years ago when working with students (you can read it here) and they found it to be a helpful exercise to identify the specific things that weighed on them and where they were tempted to anxiety.
Where is God drawing your vision today? Take a photo and share your thoughts using our hashtag — #visiowell — on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.