The Spirituality of Pain Multimedia Resources
The Civil Rights movement in this country was a national event which forced many white American's to become somewhat aware of the pain that racism had caused for centuries among Black folks in this country. Listen to some of Martin Luther King's historic "I Have a Dream" speech and consider the pain he had seen and experienced and was working to transform.
Then listen to the hymn "Lift Every Voice and Sing" often called the Black National Anthem and listen to the transformation in the words and the music.
Take a look at this art which contemplates a variety of pain.
- Picasso's Old Guitarist--the crippling pains associated with arthritis and aging
- Van Gogh's Self Portrait--the pain associated with depression and mental illness
- Titian's St. Sebastian--the pain inflicted on other persons through torture
- Picasso's Guernica--the pain of warfare (you may read about the images in the painting here.)
These next two items are the result of experiences of great loss in a fire. Turner's observation of one the most historically significant fires in British history changed his life and his way of painting. Thomas Merton's experience was less historically significant but moved him greatly as well. Think about how tragic experiences in your life have moved and changed you.
- Joseph Mallord William Turner The Burning of the Houses of Parliament
- Thomas Merton "Elegy for the Monastery Barn"
These compositions are expressions of loss and of growth through that loss. What feelings do they evoke for you?
The ancient Irish hymn "Be Thou My Vision," is a joyful yet bittersweet hymn that recognizes a certain pain of longing at our separation and distance from God.
The preparation for the joy of Easter Sunday requires Christians to contemplate the pain of separation, loss, and death associated with Jesus' betrayal and crucifixion. For a guided meditation on this pain go here.
Horatio and Anna Spafford, were a prosperous couple living on the north side of Chicago in 1871. They had a beautiful family and were well respected and active in their community and church. In a few short years, however, they suffered horrible losses. Listen to their story and to the words that Horatio wrote about their experience.
Each of the following is a reaction to close observation of death. The first is a personal reaction. The second is a historic way of leading a group to bring their personal pain into positive focus.
- Walt Whitman "To One Shortly to Die"
- From the Book of Common Prayer , "Ministration at the Time of Death" (note that this section continues over pages 462-66)
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