Art and Prayer,  Praying with Trees,  Visio Divina

Off Kilter

I’ve been taking a few days of retreat-at-home time. Stephen has been away, so with time alone at home, I figured I’d have some refreshing time of solitude and silence. It’s been good in many ways, but I haven’t managed to settle my mind as much as I had hoped. It just seems there are so many good ways to occupy my mind or spend my time, and it can be hard to quiet myself, even when I manage to avoid the phone and computer.

One day I decided to sit quietly and sketch the pin oak that’s growing in our yard. I’m fascinated by its downward growing lower limbs and the network of fine branches that spread all around it. I spent about three or four hours carefully sketching the lower part of the tree, then sat back and held my sketchbook up to compare it to the tree. And that’s when I noticed that, while the tree grows perfectly vertically, I had drawn the trunk slanting slightly to the right…

I wonder how often am I so focused on details of my day or week that I become inadvertently off-kilter, losing sight of my main purpose? Of course I’d notice if I were veering far from my goal of keeping my eyes on God, but it’s easy for me to shift slightly in the direction of relying on myself or serving my own ends rather than trying to honor God in all I do.

The slant of the tree’s trunk in my sketch is not all that obvious, since it’s only about the bottom quarter of the tree, but if I had drawn the full height of the oak at that angle, the top of the tree would have been quite far from straight above its roots.

We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. Hebrews 12:2

Avoid evil and walk straight ahead. Don’t go one step off the right way. Proverbs 4:27

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