Artist Latai Taumoepeau suspended under melting ice in a 2013 performance of i-Land X-isle.
Photo: Supplied (ABC/Zan Wimberley)

Visio Divina – ‘Webs and water’

Latai Taumoepeau was born in 1972 and currently works on Gadigal land (Sydney). She describes herself as a punake, a Tongan term coming from puna (to fly) and hake (on high). She translates punake as “a revered, respected composer of music and dance, composition and poetry”.

On February 13, we used a performance image to aid us in prayer. The image was a still of Taumoepeau suspended under melting ice in a 2013 performance of i-Land X-isle.

Taumoepeau sees her work as “a continuation of what my ancestors did … I’m continuing on in the way they used art to tell stories, to provoke thoughts, ideas and empathy”. This image allows us to listen to God speak to the gathered group, and we reflected on many issues.

We saw in the rope surrounding the blocks of ice, barbed wire – something that blocks us, or we can’t see a way through; it was an oppressive force that trapped Taumoepeau.

The ropes and suspension of Taumoepeau made us consider webs, spiderwebs.

We considered that the people of the Pacific were stuck in a web they couldn’t get out of. Influential people will not listen, and they are almost like prey for the more powerful nations unwilling to change.

We also considered the web of creation. There is something wrong in creation. Human action is at the centre of this. Still, we fail, or choose not to see the people suffering. Water, the thing that brings life to all creation, is the thing that might also bring destruction and death.

This notion of water and the changing climate was more pronounced when we considered this artwork in the aftermath of the recent volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga.

The structure supporting Taumoepeau reminded us of a table. It made us consider what is on the table for discussion, what is off the table, and what is simply hidden and ignored.

We also felt compassion for Taumoepeau. She was suspended in an uncomfortable position with cold water dripping down on her. Questions were asked. When the ice melts, what will happen? What is the risk of her drowning? Will she survive? What is the physical cost to her in performing this work?

There was a deep desire to see Taumoepeau’s discomfort eased and for her to be untangled from this painful situation. This disentanglement and desire for others to see the plight of people and act was our prayer.

Next meditation will be March 13, 12pm. All welcome in the church and online:

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 828 4637 5215
Password: 895602.

The following guidelines (from can be adapted for different occasions.

Find an image for prayer
You can use any type of image for Visio Divina. You might use images found in your church – a religious painting, a stained-glass window, or an icon.

Prepare your heart for prayer
Before you begin, choose your image and have it visible – either be near it in person or have the image pulled up on your phone or computer.

You may want to begin your time in prayer with a scripture reading. If you’re using a religious image, use the scripture related to that image. Or, use a Scripture from the day’s lectionary reading or just a favourite you want to pray.

Allow the image to speak to your heart
Open your eyes and look at the image you’ve selected. Let your eyes pause and focus on the part of the image they’re first drawn to.

Gaze upon just that part of the image for a minute or two. Then close your eyes, still seeing that part of the image in your mind.

Reflect on the entire image
Open your eyes and now look upon the whole image. Gaze upon all of the image, allowing it to draw forth a word, an emotion, or an image in your heart.

What do you hear God whispering into your heart? What thoughts or questions are raised? What emotions do you feel?

Continue to gaze and reflect as long as you need to, then briefly close and rest your eyes.

Pray through the image
Open your eyes. While looking upon the image, respond to God. Pray through the words, images, emotions, questions and thoughts that are now on your heart.

Continue to look upon the image as you pray. Then, close and rest your eyes briefly.

Rest and reflect in God
As you close out your time in prayer, open your eyes and gaze again upon the image. Rest in God’s presence as you reflect upon this prayer experience.

Consider how you’ll take this into your life. You may choose to journal about your experience.