Sacred Art Exploration and Meditation: Genesis 1.24-26
And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” – Genesis 1:24-26
Meditating on the verses in Genesis dealing with Creation, It struck me that God chose to create both animals and man on the same day. Upon further reflection, it occurred to me that God seemed to order creation according to close relationships, all plants and trees on the third day, the heavenly bodies, stars, moon, and sun on the fourth day, birds and fish on the fifth day (it seems the relationship being that both fish and birds inhabit a region of the earth that the rest of creation doesn’t: water and sky. There may also be a relation to how they propel themselves: fins and wings). On the sixth day however, God creates animals, and man. But just what is the relationship between animals and man?
To the mind of modern men, animals and man are the same; humankind are seen as just another animal. In fact, some would say that man is a parasitic animal that is at odds with all the other animals. But this purely materialist worldview does not account for the fact that God created man in His image and likeness, that God breathes something of Himself into man. The true relationship between animals and man is one of husbandry and salvation.
Commonality of Man and the Animals, and Man’s call to Rule Over Creation as a Loving King
Man is like the animals, but he is also called to be like God. Man is made of the same material substance as the animals, and in many ways shares their mannerism and behavior, yet he also has God’s spirit within himself. Man is called to rule over the beasts, over all of creation in fact, in order to provide it with the dignity of the spirit with which God gave to man. Man is to be a caretaker, a shepherd, a husbandman for creation; by being transfigured and through grace growing in the likeness of God, man can transfigure creation. Being filled with God’s uncreated light, man can enlighten the creation.
This can often be seen in the life of the saints. Wild and ferocious animals, recognizing the Christ-likeness of the saints came into voluntary service and friendship with the saints. St. Seraphim of Sarov was often seen with a grizzly bear sleeping at his feet. Saint Herman of Alaska had a family of wolverines living under his cabin; upon his death, they didn’t allow anyone to enter. Saint Mary of Egypt had a lion dig her own grave since she had no shovel. The stories are countless. Animals can sense when a man or women is fulfilling their call to draw closer to God, and are grateful to them.
Sacred Art Exploration, the Hexameron Illustration
In this sacred art exploration, I wanted to show the common well from which both animals and man spring. In order to highlight the relationship, I meditated on the similarities between man and beast; blood seemed to be the most important commonality, as it is the life-force of the body.
This sacred art exploration presents blood as a fountain, spewing forth from some mysterious field. The dominant color choices, blue and red have double meanings. The red obviously references blood, but the use of a deeper red also makes reference to royalty, the color worn by kings in the west: man is called to be king over creation, to serve with nobility and honor. The use of blue also has a double meaning. Blue is often a color used to denote stillness and peace, a reference to the divine mystery from which all creation springs. It is also the color used to symbolize the spiritual nature of mankind in sacred iconography.
I hope that this short meditation has inspired you to create your own sacred art exploration, and may God bless you in your work.