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On Holy Ground

Updated: Nov 6, 2020

by Mary Jane Miller

Chaos Theory tells us that sometimes as tiny and insignificant as something happening in Wuhan, China sets off a cascade of unpredictable events that change everything. Did it come from God, the same God who used a tiny little baby to change everything for everyone? Who could have known that tiny embryo we would come to know as Jesus would shift time and space to bring forth life, death, love and a global influence all in an instant? I was an Artist In Resident Program in Vaughan Park, Auckland, New Zealand when I focused my work on Art and Humanity.

I completed a small collection of large images during the Artist In Resident Program, three months before chaos was to circulate around the globe. Motherhood and Mary represent the divine love through which we are all divinely connected. The breath we breathe, the air that flows, and the space we occupy is equally shared by everyone. How can the human species think it can take anything we want from Mother Earth without consequences? The unseen tiny virus woke us up big time to how change comes with chaos.

A Sword will pierce Your own Soul

On Holy Ground is a collection of icons for this age of climate change. The collection of iconography opens with an image of Mary of Swords. The composition places the planet Earth beside Mary as she bows her head. The prophetic prayer of St. Symeon is echoed here, “A sword will pierce your own soul too, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2, 34-35). She stands with her hands clasped in prayer for humanity and our capacity to turn away from our hard-headed attitude towards climate change all around the globe.

Mary of Sorrows or in this case, Mary the Softener of Evil Hearts tilts her head lovingly towards our planet Earth. The number seven is associated with intuition, mysticism, inner wisdom, and a deep inward knowing. The ancient church speaks of seven deadly sins and seven holy attributes, and seven sacraments. Seven swords pierce her heart; indicating the fullness and boundless sorrow, pain and “sickness of heart” that would have been experienced by Mary the Mother of Jesus at His crucifixion.

Muslims pilgrims circle the Kaaba in Mecca sevens times, and Egyptians had seven gods.

The Christian bible used the number 735 times. God created the Earth in seven days, and there are seven wonders of the world. In the book of Revelation mentions seven churches, seven angels, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven stars. All music is based on seven basic notes, and we have seven chakras in the body. The prism effect in a rainbow shows seven distinct colors of light. There are seven bones in our face, neck, ankle, and there are seven holes in our head. There is a Divine message in the number Seven.

Pride is an excessive belief in one’s own abilities, a failure to see others before themselves. They say pride is the sin from which all others arise. Pride is the sword that comes for beneath, unseen yet at the center of everything.

Gluttony is an inordinate desire to consume more than what one requires. To take more than your share, to not know what is enough or when to stop.

Lust is an inordinate craving for pleasure. The sex trade and our obsession with perverse bodily delight have become a hindrance too many otherwise healthy relationships.

Anger is an uncontrolled response and rage towards government, religion, or anyone acting contrary to our blinded desire. They spurn love and opt instead for fury. We cause massive destruction by undisciplined reactions and excessive outbursts of ego.

Greed is the desire for material wealth or gain, ignoring the realm of the spiritual. Big industrial companies use greed to mine sand or gold, and sell seduction and cravings through lies. Greed that insists on becoming bigger and better year after year is an avarice.

Sloth is one’s refraining from physical or spiritual work becuase of laziness. It arises from a lack of self, feeling there is no point or purpose in life. On the international landscape it looks like dictators who refuse to act benevolently.

Envy is wishing for the other person to not have what they want to posses. We go to extreme measures to prevent others from having. Personal ambition sets one on a course to do anything necessary to have “what does not belong to them”.

These seven behaviors harbor a divine message for where a sword might pierce Your own Soul. Our planet needs a new awareness for profoundly understanding our place in the solar system. We can change our mindset to bring about a more balanced existence between humankind and the natural order.

Global Tenderness

Earths climate is warming due to our negligence in having the light of compassion for the rock we live on. We did not create Earth, we not sustain Earth but it is in our power to care and maintain the Earth. The seven swords piercing Mary’s chest represent the seven sinful human passions that cause spiritual torment for us all. Our human greed, lust, sloth, pride, envy, gluttony, and anger, are largely the components that have lead to our planets ill health, imbalance and climate change.

Mary and Christ cling to one another in a loving embrace. Mary of Tenderness is a familiar and common image in classic iconography. Their loving embrace is superimposed on a map of green continents delineated by longitudinal lines. Theirs could be a final embrace or one that reminds us of how fragile our Eco system is. Humanity continues to abuse the natural order and balance put in place through evolution over millenniums. Our species cannot continually take what has been freely given and disregard mother earth’s generous capacity to empty herself for our benefit. Like a mothers love for her child, she surrenders until death without resistance.

Blood Lines

Christ is the principle figure as the Pantocrator, “the One who Shows us the Way”. His image is superimposed on a map of the world of white colorless landmasses. I wanted the transparent continents to be ghost like or a faded memory from another time. The blood lines extend out in the two principle directions from the continent of North America. These deep red lines are the air traffic routes, and shipping lanes over used for our human indulgences. Our human waste and consumption, from every imaginable kind of electronic apparatus to the innocent sand from the sea floor are in peril. The cost to our planet is enormous as we deplete its resources and damage its waterways with transport and shipping.

On Holy Ground is not fully completed and only published in part. I began working on the collection at the Vaughan Park Retreat Center, Auckland N.Z. September 2019. The entire finished collection will be posted on the web site for sale beginning January 2021. More about each image

Mary Jane Miller delights in Large collections, The life of Christ 2005, the Mary Collection 2008, The Dialogue Art for Peace Project 2010 in response to war and violence; the US invasion of Iraq. Now she is dedicating her next collection to climate change and prayer for our future. Climate change is a real issue in many of our hearts and minds. She urges everyone to yield, step back from our past behaviors, reflect and move towards a new, more conscious and responsible lifestyle while together on this planet Earth.


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