Television, social media, the internet.
Almost everywhere you look, there’s news of heartache for the people of the world.
“So much devastation. It’s a wound on the whole world if you look at the planet because it’s such a special place,” said Sister Nancy Gunderson of Bismarck’s Annunciation Monastery.
Gunderson prays daily for the world as we know it, and she does it in a very special way.
Gunderson prays and paints. Thursday, she prays over what’s happening in Australia. Wildfires ravaging the country, and she paints Australian birds and the details that make them unique.
“I don’t know what happens to the birds and so I’m painting the birds as I’m thinking about Australia and praying for the country, the healing of the land and the people,” she said.
Gunderson calls her praying and painting process “praying the news.”
“I can’t be in all these places, I can’t be everywhere, so I can send prayer and the desire for comfort, then I know these people are not alone,” she said.
Gunderson prays for the people affected, for the koalas and kangaroos that are losing their habitat and for the birds native to the country.
Thursday, she’s also working on her painting of a little blue wren. It’s found in central Australia and it’s a very tiny bird.
“It has a sweet little sound,” Gunderson noted.
“I think one of the most exciting birds for me is the middle bird behind you. It’s the Kookaburra and it makes a laughing sound like a human laugh, and so he’s interesting.”
Through her painting, she’s come to know the birds of the land intimately and the stories behind them.
She carefully paints the birds on a cloth canvas then spends hours on the long-arm quilting machine. Stitching — and all the while, praying.
“The stitching I did here is meant to look like the grubs he eats,” said Gunderson.
Gunderson has been praying the news for 10 years.
Not always through words of prayer but through works of prayer.
“Can you pray while you paint? The answer is an emphatic yes. I think painting is an expression of prayer. We can pray more than being on our knees and pray in different ways,” said Gunderson.
She doesn’t just pray for the birds and animals of Australia.
She said she prays for the wounded places in the world, where wars are — where people are suffering.
It’s our borders, it’s our homeless.
She’s been praying the news for the last 10 years through her artwork, and she has some pieces to show for all the pain of the planet.