Sunday, August 16, 2009
New Program Offers Creative Inspiration for Artists, Writers
Artists throughout the centuries have spoken of ‘inspiration,’ confiding that God spoke to them or angels did. In our age, such notions of art as a spiritual experience are seldom mentioned. And yet, the central experience of creativity is mystical. Opening our souls to what must be made, we meet our Maker. Julia Cameron, from The Artist’s Way
When I was growing up, I aspired to be an artist. I took classes in oil painting and drawing, tried pottery and sculpture… I even became quite a maker of macramé wall hangings (yes, this was the ‘70’s). I also took guitar and recorder classes, and spent three years playing (badly) a French horn in our high school band. I wrote poems and essays and dreamed of being a writer. But, by the time I got to college, none of these were a part of my life.
In the past ten years I have returned to writing in a sense, in the talks I’ve done for retreats and liturgies, yet I still feel that same desire to create that drew me to try all those different avenues when I was young. I know I’m not alone in this; over the years, in spiritual direction sessions, groups and retreats I’ve heard many others voice a similar yearning. All of us, I believe, have an inborn ability and desire for creativity. Creation is the activity of God, and each of us shares in that creative energy that is God’s energy.
In September one of the offerings here at the Center will be an Artist’s Way Cluster Group. The book The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, has been a tool of transformation for many, many people over the 17 years since it was first published. It offers a 12-week process designed to help people recover their creativity, and in doing so, to open themselves up to the Divine in a new and deeper way. The process is for artists, writers, musicians… but also for people who, like me, are struggling to find the time and the form for their creative desires. Each week there are exercises to complete, and free-form writing is to be done every day. The author has developed an explicitly spiritual process; among her basic principals are such things as, “Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God,” and “Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source. As we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity.”
The Artist’s Way can certainly be done individually, but for some people, having a group gives them both support and a sense of accountability, which is why Julia Cameron developed some guidelines for what she calls “cluster groups.” Participants are asked to make a commitment to attend all 8 weeks and to doing the exercises, which will take 30 – 60 minutes per day. Conversation in the group meetings will be around those experiences.
I look forward to being a companion on this journey with others who are interested. The group will meet Wednesday mornings, beginning September 9. I invite you to consider registering by contacting the Center or through the web page: http://www.francisspctr.com/artists-way.php. I don’t expect that my particular gift for macramé will reappear again, but I do believe Cameron’s words: As we open our creative channel to the creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.