Creativity in Prayer
As of now I am standing on at the tip of an Ark, a large wooden one, as it plunges through the rough waves of a deep blue ocean somewhere far off, and I’m the only one on there. I am not afraid to be there. The day is bright and a gentle. A dove comes down with a golden light around it, and as my hand is lifted to it, it takes from me a scroll that has all of my anxieties and worries written on it. From here I can actually surrender my anxieties, and I have no doubt that the dove was the Holy Spirit. Peace comes with giving away my worries, and as of now I know I can revisit this “prayer fountain” in meditation or in the hustle and bustle of daily life in order to surrender my worries. What a grace. Thank you, Jesus.
It’s crazy, isn’t it? It sounds like some kind of dramatic movie that’s about to start, but that is a tiny glimpse into my recent prayer life. If you would have told me I would have this kind of relationship with the Lord a couple years ago, I would have to you to take a chill pill. I thought my prayer life was perfect just as it was, but what I didn’t realize was I was only talking to our Lord. I wasn’t inviting Him to communicate back to me. I wasn’t trusting in Him.
I have loved art and all that it encompassed since I was a young girl. I was always drawing, and my favorite way to spend my time as a young girl was attending art classes and working on art projects. I could relax and still be creating something, and I didn’t have to think too much (It’s still something I very much enjoy but don’t spend as much time as I should with it). Jesus knows this is my resting place, and through the intersession of Mother Mary and the graces that flow through her, He has come to meet me there.
When I first made my consecration to Jesus through Mother Mary, I was skeptical about the whole thing; I didn’t know Mary, and I surely didn’t trust her. I didn’t understand how it was possible to do that. My best friend McClain and I decided to do the Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary together in November of 2018. Throughout the whole 33-day process leading up to it, we didn’t really understand. We got discouraged. We were tempted with worldy things. We didn’t feel anything at all. However, after writing down that I would trust Mother Mary on consecration day and doing the very best that I could to hand over everything that I was holding onto in life: the good, the bad, all the decisions, all the heartbreak, all the forgiveness I needed to give to myself and others, each day Our Lady has worked with me to give it all up even more. The graces have been abundant, the healing has been real and my relationship with Jesus and Mary has prospered.
Fast forward to January at SEEK 2019, (“seek and you will find” Matthew 7:7) I was drawn to the adoration chapel when I was supposed to go to a talk on the last day. I marched straight up to the altar in front of the Eucharist and dropped to my knees (something I would never do before was walk in front of a lot of people for that; I never wanted to look like I was trying to be “better” than everyone else and felt unworthy). I flipped over a prayer card on the floor and began reading all of these beautiful titles for Our Lord and Our Lady as I was staring straight at images of them on the wall behind Jesus in the Eucharist. For the first time I felt like I was actually giving them the glory and praise that they deserved instead of just going through the motions and saying all my problems. My heart began to fill up with abounding joy, and it didn’t leave like I expected it to. I was drawn to pray my Rosary; it was Sunday, so I meditated with the Glorious mysteries. I read what was actually going on in each mystery, so I could have a full grasp of what the mystery meant. With each decade, I asked the Holy Spirit to place on my heart who needed prayers in my life for that moment. With each mystery, I watched as Mother Mary graced me with beautiful meditations that brought me to tears. I don’t remember what happened for the first and second mysteries, but for the third Mystery, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, I was sitting with my mom and sisters at the table in our house with a pure white blanket-like fog above us. I didn’t know what we were saying, just that I was filled with so much joy. For the fourth mystery, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I watched the grave-like hole in the ground be surrounded by pink and white lilies as I followed the golden trail up to Heaven where the Blessed Virgin had just been lifted. I was shown who I knew was my future husband, but the whiteness was so bright that I couldn’t see his face. I just knew Jesus was behind him. Mother Mary was standing on one side of me and St. Joseph on the other, as if I had their blessing. For the next mystery, Mother Mary’s Coronation, I was standing in the same place and wanting to go see her Coronation so badly, but I didn’t know where to go. I watched as my earthly Father, Mitch, gently stuck his hand out to me from behind the pure white clouds to lead the way; his face was so gentle. I took it, and the decade ended and the mediation was over. I sat there sobbing for a bit, a little shaken up by what I had just witnessed but in complete belief.
From this point, I’ve let Mother Mary lead me where I needed to go, I’ve listened to those little heart pings. You know the ones I’m talking about? They seem to say “don’t do this, go here, you’re not ready for that yet…” I’ve grown in ways I never thought I needed to or could. My Husband Christian and I consecrated our lives to Jesus through Mary in May to Our Lady of Fatima while on a mission trip. We asked Her to completely take over our decisions as a couple and individually. It has been a beautiful experience, with abounding graces once again. Surrendering control has been crucial but a bit difficult. Have I done this perfectly? No. I’m still a sinner and I make mistakes, but Mother Mary prays, and Jesus works to still make so many of those things beautiful in my life. There’s a constant lesson being learned when I take the time to rest and contemplate on how Mother Mary has worked in my life. I’ve grown closer to some of the Saints, especially St. Juan Diego, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Theresa of Calcutta and St. Elizabeth. I wasn’t even trying, she’s just led me to them, and I’ve realized those are some of the saints who were most devoted to her. I’ve been gifted with roses in my earthly life and prayer life—vivid images in ways I never could have thought of—with a peace in knowing that it is real with every visual prayer I receive from the Blessed Virgin.
Most of my art has been inspired by my prayer life. All of my art I’ve given away to the people that I’ve felt I needed to without too much thinking, just knowing and trusting it will end up where it needs to. My art ranges from quick sketches in adoration to Christmas gifts. It’s weird and hard to fully understand. I suggest to anyone and everyone to go to Mary for her intercession and she will lead you to her son. You must have the faith of a mustard seed, to begin with, a little patience, and a little trust. She’s going to do something so unique for you to grow in an intimate relationship with Jesus; I have no doubt.
-Harleigh Leonards, Cowboy Catholic Alumna