Originally posted on the Candler School of Theology blog
Without creative devotion this last semester, I’m not sure I would have made it.
The focus and meditation that comes with drawing, painting or photographing has been a necessary spiritual connection. I can’t say when I learned these methods of devotion, except to say it has happened organically. Who didn’t spend hours coloring as child?
But why, then, are only those who label themselves “artistic” the ones who get to benefit from this type of connection? I’ve heard this so many times: people suggesting that it’s great that I am an “artist” type, and wishing they could do it. Resigned to the fact that they can’t, many people cut themselves off from this aspect of creative energy of the spirit. I would argue that everyone can connect in this way. We’ve begun to see that with devotional coloring books and illustrated Bible phrases.
Betsey Beckman, in her article, “Art as a Mediator of the Sacred,” asks this important question: “What if we consider the possibility that a primary way we can experience the revelation of God’s mystery is through the process of our own creative expression?” This question reaches to the heart of spiritual development and the theology of creativity. Spiritual development and discernment are positioned in the conversation and conception of self-discovery.
Last year during Contextual Education I, I helped lead a group of women from Solomon’s Temple Women and Family Shelter through the process of creating a mural. This is when I first began exploring the incredible potential of art as a way to speak our own truths in a different form of communication. I am very interested in exploring this type of Pastoral Care. I have begun doing graphic illustrations of people’s life stories. The combination of a narrative and pastoral exchange and artistic reflection can be very healing.
We could all learn more about ourselves and grow closer spiritually by figuring out how to connect through creativity. I’m developing a seminar to help people take the first steps toward discovering their own language of creativity.
Our creative God has given us all the ability to create and speak God’s truth if we open ourselves up to our inner artist. In order to grow in creative ability, we must continually ask for the creative Spirit, and find new ways to practice creativity in our daily devotional life.
I’ve been lucky to have wonderful professors at Candler encourage me vocationally to pursue drawing and graphic recording. I can’t wait to see where this type of creative pedagogy will take me. This summer, I’ll be leading the creative worship and arts at the Youth Theological Initiative. I know I will learn so much more from the scholars than I will teach. Collaboration is where I find the most inspiration. I am grateful for this opportunity.