by Sister Wendy Beckett
Epiphany library section 5: Devotions and Prayer
This small devotional book by Sister Wendy of PBS fame uses paintings and sculpture as springboards to discuss various aspects of human love: tender reverence, choosing love, lifelong fidelity, mother love, regret, ageless love, forgetting self, eternal love.
In the Forgetting Self meditation, Sister Wendy uses Claude Monet’s painting of his wife, Camille, on her deathbed, adorned with flowers and swathed in airy sheeting. It is a mystical, ethereal painting of great tenderness. She died young and left Monet bereft of her companionship, with several young children now fully dependent upon him. By painting her portrait in death, he was to some extent escaping his pain by externalizing it. Nonetheless, his painting was a remarkable act of egoless activity. He forgot himself while catching the least glimmer of light on her face. This self forgetfulness is the essence of true commitment.
Sister Wendy’s books always give us something to think about. Our library also has her Nativity for children and adults, A Child’s Book of Prayer in Art for children, and Sister Wendy on Prayer for adults. You’ll find them all under “Beckett” in the card catalog which will tell you where they are located in the library. All of them use fine art as a springboard for religious discussion and enrichment.