"The Holy Spirit, “the Breath” (ruah), is the One referred to already in the Book of Genesis: “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters” (1:2). What affinity between the words “breath - breathing” and “inspiration”! The Spirit is the mysterious Artist of the universe.
Every genuine inspiration contains some tremor of that “breath” with which the Creator Spirit suffused the work of creation from the very beginning. Overseeing the mysterious laws governing the universe, the divine breath of the Creator Spirit reaches out to human genius and stirs its creative power. He touches it with a kind of inner illumination which brings together the sense of the good and the beautiful, and he awakens energies of mind and heart which enable it to conceive an idea and give it form in a work of art. It is right then to speak, even if only analogically, of “moments of grace”, because the human being is able to experience in some way the Absolute who is utterly beyond."
~from Blessed John Paul II's Letter to Artists
My friend Christi is an extremely talented artist who uses her gift to prayerfully paint icons, and more than that, she shares her vast knowledge of prayerful art with me, increasing my appreciation for the gifts of beauty which are inspired by the very breath of God, the Holy Spirit. Last summer she brought one of her works in progress (the above icon) to my house and invited me to add gold to the halo of one of the three women standing outside of the tomb at the Resurrection of our Lord. I chose the woman that I thought would be Mary Magdalene and carefully applied the gold by first holding a prayer in my heart and then breathing upon the image. They say that every stroke and motion of icon painting is a prayer. So on that not so distant day I breathed a prayer to one of my favorite saints who always holds a favored place in my heart because she loved much and I long to emulate that quality in my own life. I want to cast my soul at the feet of our Lord and breathe continuous prayers of love to His Most Sacred Heart. I want to carry an alabaster jar of fragrant oil into the world and spread His love to others. I want to love much.
I posted the following poem just last July but it's so touching and worthy of repeating. It was written by Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, sP, the founder of the Handmaids of the Precious Blood and now my own spiritual father as I have become an Oblate of the Precious Blood candidate.
To Saint Mary Magdalene
until you found
and plunged your soul
into a spring so sweet
fell as chaste pearls
For more about icons, you may enjoy this link: Just what do Catholics believe about icons?