Monday, January 20, 2014

It all belongs

What is the purpose in my creating?  As a believer, as a contemplative, do I have a formula that I must follow?  If my art is simply an overflow of who I am, of my inner life, is it appropriate to say that I am by nature creating in Spirit and in truth, or must I purpose to create explicitly Christian art?

As I prepare to lead upcoming sessions on spiritual art journaling, I have been reflecting on these questions.  My own spiritual journey has taken me on an amazing and shadowed path over the last few years, and deep, messy art has been an integral part of this soul travel.  Many of my pages are doubting, searching, and dark, reflecting the emotional lows that have been such foundational pieces of God's transforming work, or even the change in my faith from one of separation and judgement to one of grace and unity.

So much of Christian interaction today centers around changing behavior, with minimal head-nodding given to the inner soul and heart work.  We say that the transformation needs to be internal, but we judge based on the external, not often enough acknowledging that this inner healing and inner awakening takes time and goes completely unseen.  What if my outer skin, my habits and tendencies, don't change soon enough for the masses?  What if from the outside things look a bit odd and even sacrilegious as the soul work is happening?  How long is too long to wait for the inner work to become visible?  A month?  A year?  A decade?  And what if the visible end result doesn't look like you think it should?

I don't want to worry about the waiting.  I want to create in the interim, as the Spirit is stirring the waters of my soul, splashing about in the places that no earthly person sees.  I want to keep creating even as I discover again and again that I don't need to ask for God's presence, because I simply cannot get away from it.  And as I find that my spirit has been abiding in His all along and that I simply wasn't looking in the right place- the inner room where His Spirit already dwells.

So, with these truths, I realize that anything I create comes from a place of open-handed grace, and is at its core, sacred.  I don't need to put words of scripture in my pages just for their own sake.  I can do nothing but create in the Spirit because I live in Christ and He in me.   This abiding, it is a mystery that deserves thought but also deserves the respect of remaining mystery, without explanation, answers, or understanding.

In my art, it all belongs.  Every messy bit of it.  Maybe that's what I will share, and maybe this will be a gift of freedom for others as it has been for me.