May 2007 - Vol. 8

Nowhere Land: wandering on the borders of the Promised Land
acrylic on wood, 112x86 cm

Painting with "eyes of faith"

An Irish artist envisions biblical salvation history and the spread of the gospel in Ireland by Celtic monks 

art work by Gerard Kavanagh

Gerard Kavanagh, born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, studied painting at the National College of Art and Design. He received his Masters in Art History at Trinity College in Dublin. He has been an active member of Nazareth Community in Dublin for the past ten years. 
Artist's statement:
Painting for me is a way to connect with the Lord and to express God's love in my life. I believe what my church teaches that the artist is "engaged in a kind of sacred imitation of God the creator" (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 127). I remember also that when God created heaven and earth, "the earth was a formless void, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters "(Genesis 1:2). The wind, of course, is the Holy Spirit.  In a way the artist has to try and create something out of the chaos of  his or her own ideas and feelings. I believe that the more the artist can rely on the Holy Spirit as guide, the more spiritually successful the work can be. 

Some time ago, John Keating, the presiding elder of The Servants of the Word, spoke about a prophetic word which he believed the Lord was speaking to the communities in The Sword of the Spirit. He said that this was a time of grace for taking new spiritual ground or territory in our lives. The Lord wanted us to fight spiritually for this territory [with the spiritual weapons St. Paul the Apostles mentions in Ephesians 6), and the Lord himself would fight with us to help us achieve spiritual victory in our lives. John encouraged us to meditate on the Book of Numbers in the Old Testament,  especially chapters 13 and 14, which describe how the people of Israel were to prepare themselves for taking possession of the Promised Land. Our community took this prophetic word to heart and began to apply the spiritual lessons of the Biblical texts in a series of community presentations and reflections.  It was during this period of meditation and study that I began the painting, entitled "Nowhere Land". 

My work on "Nowhere Land"
This painting [shown above] depicts the Chosen People wandering on the borders of the Promised Land. God has instructed them to take the land, but they have succumbed to the sins of presumption and despair. They respond that they cannot take the land because it is already occupied by a people stronger than themselves. They doubt the Lord's word to them. The consequence of their unbelief results in their wandering in the desert for forty years. The Lord tells them that they will never enter the Promised Land. They will die in the desert.  Only in time will their children enter if they obey the Lord. 

This study gave me an insight into what happens to us when we disobey God's word. We end up wandering endlessly and aimlessly in a nowhere land - a land of doubt.  The Promised Land for the Christian people primarily involves our being in a relationship with the Lord and dwelling with him in his kingdom.  The taking of this land involves the conquest of self and sin in our lives and growth in holiness and virtue.

The Saving of the Gospels 
acrylic on paper, 102x69 cm 
[Celtic monks in Ireland hid their copies of hand-scripted gospels in the bogs during Viking raids]

Abstract Geometric [inspired by stain glass]
acrylic on canvas, 150x120cm

(c) copyright 2007  The Sword of the Spirit
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