colour prayer

colour prayerDuring Lent, a small group from Dunoon has been exploring different methods of prayer. Many of our sesions have involved led meditatations: everthing from tools for developing our attention to meditations on scripture and imaginative prayer. None of it has translated well into blogging. But tonight’s session might. We were considering ways of using colour in prayer.

The basic idea is this: colour often carries emotional content. Sometimes, when we would be hard-pressed to name how we are feeling, we find we can colour it quite easily. By paying attention to what we are feeling, and being honest with ourselves and with God, we can learn to be ‘real’ in God’s presence.

Colour prayer takes lots of forms. It can be as simple as scribbling on the corner of a page — trusting that God is present, trying to be open to what we are feeling. We might use only one colour, or we might form something quite elaborate. The shape that emerges might be important, or the ‘truth’ of the picture may rest solely in the balence of colour. We often won’t know what we are doing, or what it might mean till long after we’re done.

The picture at the top is a colour sqare. It is a way of reviewing the day or working through a specific issue or relationship. You begin by assinging colours to a range of emotions: hope, fear, anxiety, anger, love, trust… You also assign a God colour. Then you look back at your day (or the situation that’s on your mind) and begin colouring. How have you felt today? Fill the square in however it seems best.

Often people find that the process surprises them. There is more anger than they had realised, or more hope, or more joy… As the drawing is nearing its natural end, look for your God colour. It is there already? If not, where might it go? Or is it hidden today? Don’t assume there is a right answer — just be aware your perceptions.

When you finish colouring, take a minute to pray verbally or simply sit in God’s presece, then draw the prayer time to a close.

Sometimes the ‘meaning’ of a colour sqaure or free-draw will be obvious to you. Other times, it may not. It may be that it is only when you look back at several drawings together that patterns begin to make sense.

I find that praying with colour is particarly helpful when emotions are running high. It’s a way of getting them out, seeing what they look like, dealing with them. You can also pray through scripture or theology this way. What would the last supper look like? Or forgiveness? Or resurrection?

Enough. Molly has just arrived to say that happiness looks like brown bits on a white plate, followed by an endless expanse of ivory duvet (and crossness is the sudden surge of red after the swipe of pearly claw).

7 thoughts on “colour prayer”

  1. what colour a purr? or the smell of warm breath as a loved one sleeps? oh to be able to colour such joys!!
    But I wonder, is colour itself not part of God?

  2. Thank you for posting this, Kimberly. As you know I wasn’t able to be at the session, so it’s really helpful 🙂

  3. Did you tell me there’s a book or website with more information on this? I meant to get some more information on it when we talked during your visit. I’d like to try it! Thanks so much for posting in detail – I’ve printed it out. I’d like to design a weekend retreat around praying with art supplies, and I’d thought about combining it with prayer with scripture, but I haven’t started the design process yet. Perhaps I could incorporate some of this. Any suggestions?

    Momisa – I think of God as having all colors, lots of colors, along with clear light (which I guess has all colors in it, too, come to think of it). I don’t know what I’d choose. How do you envision color as part of God? I’d be interested in hearing. And I love those questions. They’d make a good meditation, I bet. Such gifts.

  4. Sarah — the book is Colourful Prayer by Sheila Merryweather. I will endeavor to send you a copy, though it probably won’t be till after Easter.

  5. ps for Mac users: The colours are very strange on a Mac. It’s been interesting seeing how different the blog looks on PC and Mac. Can anyone suggest a ‘solution’ or is that just how it is?

  6. Hi Sarah SSM
    If I were to colour myself – whether happy, sad or angry – I think the colours would be solid. My Godly self would break the colours up so that they are lighter, probably with alot of fuzziness. The reds would be pinks, the deep yellows would be sun kissed hues, purples more lilac and the black more gray. It’s the presence of God in my life that lifts everything and helps with the daily humdrumminess so it would only make sense to me that my colours would be lifted, with more calm. Have you ever given thought to a rainbow? All the colors are clear but blended at the same time. Better still, have you driven through the middle of the arch in a rainbow? It’s a great hug!

  7. I’m designing a retreat on praying with art supplies and plan to put this book on the resource list. Do you (Kimberly – or anyone else, for that matter) have any suggestions for how I might use this as part of a weekend retreat? For now, this is a paper for a class, due Sunday, but I hope actually to lead the retreat in 2008 or 2009 in Duxbury. I’d love some input! There might be others who would welcome similar suggestions, too.

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