Creativity as a Catalyst of Healing

Sharing an article I wrote for Columbia Theological Seminary entitled, ‘Creativity as a Catalyst of Healing’ that explores the “I’m not creative” belief that many people claim. A few years ago, I completed work at CTS in Spiritual Formation. When I began, I didn’t even know what Spiritual Formation was. When I completed the work, I wondered how I’d survived so long without it (the formation and practices). The Spiritual Formation work truly transformed the way I experienced day to day living and had me asking hard questions about the faith I’d lived for so long. I connected back with my innate creativity as a form of prayer, a practice, a way of listening to the still small voice within. This led me to find artist Shiloh Sophia and begin the great adventure with Intentional Creativity®.

I’m thrilled to share that my art will be on exhibit at CTS in the Harrington Center this Spring. The exhibit is scheduled in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the Spirituality Program of the Center for Lifelong Learning.
More information about the Exhibit can be found here.

Creativity As a Catalyst of Healing

There was a time when knowledge was the driving force to my faith journey.

I desperately desired to understand more about Christ and needed the “right” answers.

I became a committed student to figure out the areas of Scripture that didn’t make sense.

I joined Bible studies.

Dutifully read my devotions.

I volunteered.

But, truthfully, there were many days when all this “do-ing” led to unsettled inquiry deep within my heart.

As I persisted with seeking certain answers, it was the narrow unknown that kept me engaged.

I naturally saw holes and questioned discrepancies. Something important was missing in the busy spiritual life I was twirling in.

When I entered Spiritual Formation classes at CTS, I quickly realized the “piece/peace” lacking was the gift of spiritual practices.

In reading Soul Feast by Marjorie Thompson, my heart quickened to the abundance she offered.

Lectio divina, various approaches to prayer, the gift of Sabbath — all this began to open my eyes to ordinary beauty, to the beating heart of Christ in each day.

As I proceeded with Formation classes, the path led me back to my innate creative nature.

I began to play with creativity as an expression of prayer.

I placed my pen on the page and let it freely flow with poetic musings.

I swirled watercolors and reengaged my inner child.

Something within shifted.

I found God loved me in stillness, in “be-ing”.

Profound grace washed over me.

Here, at the intersection of creativity and faith, I became impassioned.

My eyes opened to the Trinity as the great “Creative Force” I was invited to have communion with.

Each time I engaged imagination, something new emerged.

Ideas popped, words soothed, frustration ebbed.

The verve of creativity gave me access to the Spirit within. Heartfelt words and expressive image became my offering to God.

Because I was bringing what I have to offer, my inner perfectionist retreated.

I let go of a desired outcome.

I began to invite others into this creative approach to faith, but was met by some resistance.

I found there to be a belief deeply embedded in humanity. The belief is, “I’m not creative.”

As Christians, we proclaim we’re made in the image of a Creator, but we don’t claim ourselves as creators. We’ve taken on a mistruth that one needs “artistic talent” to be considered creative.

We’ve forgotten that innovation moves through our body freely.

We judge ourselves as creators based solely on artistry.

If the art doesn’t look “good” by one’s standards, the inner critic comes out to judge in all her glory.

“I told you: You’re not an artist. You mess everything up.”

We assess ourselves through our perceived lack of talent or through the negative words of others.

With this limited view, we miss the opportunity of creativity as a gateway to meet the Divine.

What if art, instead of being looked at as an approach to produce an output of pretty or functional wares, became an accessible pathway for the expression of grief, anger, and prayer?

What if we untangled the stale belief “I’m not creative” and dared to get messy?

What if we claimed ourselves as “creators” and breathed love into our work to bring healing to our life, community and world?

These are the provocative questions that began to stir under the guidance of artist, Shiloh Sophia while participating in coursework with the Intentional Creativity Foundation, the next step I took after CTS.

Dwelling with these inquiries, my roots grew deeper still, into the truth that imagination and faith aren’t much different.

Nowadays, as I come to the canvas, I come slowly.

An altar is carefully set.

A ritual with salt, water and song commences.

I take a deep breath and cross the threshold of white space with a painted prayer.

My heart tunes in for color choice.

Marks of compost are made.

Dashes of light are added.

With each layer, another piece of my story is revealed.

Who or what will appear on this canvas? My senses are on alert as I tend to the center and the edges.

It is here knowing unravels and revelation occurs.

I find the in-between spaces awaken my soul and lead me to action.

We must dare to face the blank white canvas and begin our colorful prayer.

When we do, we find the Great Mystery is there to meet us and reveal her loving gaze.