At the Center of It All

When this scene was painted (circa 1510), it was one of the first landscape paintings of this scale ever done. The artist, Patinir, is considered the pioneer of “world landscape” compositions which depicts an imaginary panoramic scene viewed from an elevated viewpoint. This particular painting demonstrates the power of such landscapes. The people involved in the feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew 14:13-21) only occupy the lower third of the panel, dwarfed by the vast view and stunning vistas.

Notice the activity on the river, the castles in the distance, and even God in the clouds—all draw our eyes upward and outward. Did you notice what sits in the exact center of the painting? At the very heart of all the activity is a man praying.

I pondered the contrast between the solitude of the man praying and the hustle and bustle of the people distributing and collecting food. While oftentimes I want to get about getting to work, the reminder that prayer should be at the center of my “getting about” is helpful. No matter the work we are doing, God invites us to root it in prayer. Just before this event, Jesus and his disciples were trying to get away to pray, but it did not happen. The demands of the people got in the way. Some days the demands of life get in the way of spending some quiet time with God. When busyness sets in, prayer is often of the of the first things we tend to give up.

Being Human connection: Like the painting, may we keep prayer at the heart of all our activity.

Featured art: Joachim Patinir (also called Patenier), The Feeding of the Five Thousand, circa 1510, ©Monasterio de El Escorial, Spain