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Honouring reality: blessing in the ruins


Image: The Ruins (Inner Voices) by James Tissot


As we reflect on Joseph who was blessed precisely because his life didn’t go as he planned, some questions have come up for me, and I invite you to consider them too:

  • What must it have been like for Joseph, named with the promise of sons, to find his fiancée pregnant with a son that wasn’t his?

  • How would the hard realities of your life change if you were able to see them as moments where you might hear God’s voice?

  • What would it mean for you if blessing didn’t always look like a perfect life, but looked more like honouring our reality?

As you hold these questions, I invite you into this week’s reflection, a practice called visio divina. It’s a practice that involves taking an image and using it as a starting point for contemplation, asking God what God might want to say to you through it.


The image we’ll use is called The Ruins (Inner Voices) by an artist called James Tissot.

The first step is simply to look at the picture. Notice the shapes, the colours, and the lighting. Notice the detail of both the foreground and background. Let your eye wander all over the image and see what you notice.

The second step is to take note of what has caught your attention and to focus on it. Ask why God drew your attention to that particular part of the image. What does it make you feel? Does it connect with something happening in your day-to-day life or with a memory you hold? What word comes to mind as you reflect?

How might God be speaking to you in this part of the image? Do you sense an invitation?The next step is to respond. How do you want to respond? What desires or longings have come up as you’ve paid attention? Give voice to these things in prayer to God.

Finally, turn to silence and rest with God. There is no need to hurry on from this space. Savour the things you’ve discovered, the invitation you’ve heard, the emotions you’ve felt, the way God has drawn you through this image.

Remember as you return to the noise of your life, that you are deeply loved.

May you know how close Jesus is to you as you gaze together upon all that is broken and ruined; may you know he weeps with you, and blesses your reality with his lovingkindness.


Johanna Derry Hall

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