Friday, 24 July 2009

TELL ME 'Y' -1

I’m fascinated by the image of God, getting his hands dirty, as a potter fashioning man from the clay of the earth. This idea is frequently used in the Bible, and especially in the Book of Genesis.
This was the inspiration for my first picture, in which I set about painting two hands shaping a half formed man. He’s dark since he’s in the process of being created from wet clay, and is being drawn upwards to share God’s life and happiness.
After painting my picture I hung it up in the cloisters of our priory at Spode Conference Centre in the heart of England. I deliberately didn’t provide a title, so that visitors would be free to make of it what they liked. And it was intriguing to hear their different interpretations. To my delight a few developed my line of thought in ways that had not occurred to me. And many years of reflection have led me to see more in my picture than I had originally intended.
I realised that the hands formed a ‘Y’ shape, which could have several meanings. It could symbolise ‘YAHWEH.’ That’s the sacred name with which God identified himself when he revealed himself to Moses from the burning bush. ‘Yahweh’ literally means, ‘I am the God who really is,’ as distinct from false deities, who are nothings. This name implies God’s abiding, saving presence among us.
Further reflection led me to see that the ‘Y’ shape could also represent ‘YES’ and asked the questions, ‘WHY?’ and ‘WHAT?
So in the present picture of the Divine Potter creating Man:

The hands form a ‘Y’ composition as Yahweh draws the half-formed clay man upwards from the slime of the earth.
The ‘Y’ asks the questions:
1. ‘WHAT is this?’
Answer: ‘The creation of man.
2. ‘WHY?
Answer: ‘YAHWEH'S creative love,
as YAHWEH says, ‘YES’ to our creation,’ seeing it to be ‘very good.’
And we reply, ‘YES’ to our creator

Gradually I realised that I could develop the ‘Y’ shaped hands composition of the Divine Potter picture to express different stages in salvation history. These, I thought could be used as a new way of preaching, and as a springboard for meditation. So, excitedly, I painted the following pictures, which you will be seeing, together with short reflections. I would love to know whether you think my approach works.

Isidore O.P.

Next week : “It’s good to be human!”


  1. Looking at this picture I feel I am sharing the timid wonder and bewilderment of this new creation.Safe in the hands of a loving Creator but soon to start an independent life.
    It's no surprize then that during our own lives we can feel so many conflicting feelings towards God as he is continually re-creating,remodelling and redeeming US.

  2. Looking at this picture I feel I am sharing in the timid wonder and perhaps bewilderment of this new creation.Safe in the hands of a loving God and ready to start an independent life.
    And during our own lives we feel so many conflicting emotions towards God as he is continually re-creating and redeeming US.