Creating Art is a Sacred Experience

Sacred Art. To create a work of art is to make an offering, symbolic of who and what you are about. When you are completely open, and offer up your inner self, your spiritual self, the Creator, the Universe speaks to and through you. You have communicated from that place within, a sacred place. To create an art piece from a place of love, is to reach for the sacred. Sacred art calls forth our own spirit, connecting us with the mystery of being and the hidden power of life. Such art is enabling: for it becomes a messenger and guide of the spirit. Inspired sacred art accompanies us and expresses something of our individual and communal journeys. For me, creating art tells me what I know, but didn’t know what I knew . . a revelation. 

Bring Your Talents to the World. Speak out words of encouragement, give voice to your convictions in your art, speak out against injustice . . .not only because it is the right thing to do . . . but because there are people waiting for your words, for your art; waiting for your unique way of doing things – be it your way with numbers, or perhaps your sense of organization, your persistence, your skills, your poems, your clay images. Never feel that your skills, your talents, your words were meant for you alone -- they belong to your Creator, to the world, to all of us. You were meant to share them! So, get out there and exhibit your artwork; write an article for the newspaper, prepare a tasty meal for a friend! Coach a youngster in sports, mentor a child in reading, in math – share whatever your talent and make a difference in the world. Be a friend!

God may be experienced, may be felt through all our senses, seen in the order of life and in our creative work. Like a modern cell phone, we are hard-wired to be connected to God. That is, providing we have our “set” turned-on. You can receive “calls” or dial Him up. Whether in your creative thinking and doing, or accessing the mystery of the Holy Spirit, both are available to everyone. 

“Does God Only Exist In Our Head?” “What does this have to do with art?” you may ask. A friend pointed me towards a blog whose writer is responding to this question, “Does God only exist in our head?” Hmmm . . . For me, I respond to God’s presence inside my mind and my body, felt through ALL my senses. We are hard-wired to experience God the Creator. It is both a left and right brain function. Buckminster Fuller said that God is not a noun, but a verb. Process? Universally applied to plants and animals, I find the life-force of our Creator in my garden, where plants are growing profusely and left unchecked, slowly spread beyond their designated boundries, urged on by the unseen forces of the Universe . . God. That life-force is so strong that a plant will sprout in the crack of a parking lot in defiance of cars driving over and around it. Plants progress through an expected life-cycle: sprouting, blooming, changing character and appearance, dying at the end of the season, then miraculously reappearing in the Spring. We humans are similarly transformed through the seasons of our own lives, in our physical appearance, our character, and personality. When our time comes to shed our “earth suits” and to return “ Home,” to the Source, we hope we will have done our very best to become the person God designed us to be. As a Christian, my spiritual guide and light on this journey is Jesus and his Way. Yours may be Mohamed, or Buddha , or Moses.

We struggle to understand our Creator’s plan for us as humans. We are transformed by our experiences, forever changed as much by the small as we are the magnanimous. Yet the energy and cycle of things go on long after we’ve left this earth – everything in our world in the process of continual change. All things in our world seem to be in a perpetual movement into another form, on their way to somewhere else, into something else. Process. 

Mindful souls at work. The creative process is a way we artists connect with our intentions in clay, paint etc. Ultimately, activities that are close to our hearts, that intuitively produce a feeling of balance, a feeing of wholeness . . . some say it’s here where you connect with God. Does God only exist in our head? For me, He seems to exist everywhere in all creation. We just have to pay attention. We experience and connect with Him most deeply when we are working at it. Most often, the deeper connection comes through intention, mindful souls at work, be it in the art studio, in the garden, prayer, poetry, successful arenting, etc. When you have connected with your intention aving the feeling of wholeness, a feeling of peace, feel on balance; when you are discovering a kind of “truth” an epiphany in the experience.

Art is not the creation of a "thing." It is the experience of what happens to you when you have connected with your symbolic visual intention. The painting, the pottery, the sculpture is the expressed symbolic image of that experience. In other words, creating art represents a reaching for an elusive, jubilant experience through the act of “doing”. The creative experience can be but a mild blip of pleasure, or a peaceful sense of well-being, all the way to a transforming cataclysmic tide of revelation at the highest level. In the latter, when you and the emerging work seem to totally connect with your intention, really connect, the work can have the effect of merging the mind, the body, and the soul in a unifying rush of spiritual glory. { Some describe this as a “God experience.”) Whether it is a life-changing experience or a milder one, satisfaction can just as well come through sports, woodworking, performance, through dancing, parenting/grandparenting, cooking, gardening, prayer, yoga - anything that you love to do, that gives you a "felt" pleasure. But when all the elements of it come together, really come together, you become something more than you were before. Although each practitioner may find various levels of emotional returns in these creative endeavors, the higher the return usually increases accordingly with the level of serious commitment to it and practiced skill associated with the respective activity. Anything that comes from a place of love, that lifts and nurtures your spirit, transforms you from the mundane to the “special” when you do them, is a form of art . . . and because of your love of it, it is therefore sacred.

Creating art is like a prayer; an offering. Once you begin working the material and the imagery, pulling together a composition, you are “dialing up” your connection to the sacred and some would say, God. 

" Prayer is none other than the expanding of our heart in the presence of God." - John Calvin

Creating an ambience in your workspace, serves as a background energy that contributes to your creative activity . My pottery/sculpture studio walls and shelves are covered with photos and objects that have a visual energy that appeals to me; the background music has a part to play as well. Even the sculpture and fountains just outside the door in the garden do their part. You do whatever you can to generate and stay in the creative “zone” from day to day. When I walk through my garden and into my studio, the aura starts it’s “magic” even before my hands are in the clay. 

The creative process . . . a supreme act of faith. 

Creative activity is an intentional WAY of thinking and a WAY of doing. That’s why we refer to it as “the creative process.” The creative process is a kind of a probing, finding method at the service of a vague plan. The creative person is one who surrenders himself to it with no expectations - it is a supreme act of "faith," of trust, an intuitive leap in the dark. It is an attitude, an act of “not knowing” . . . not knowing where you will end up on your creative journey, but recognizing its completion when all the elements come together into a balanced whole.. It is risk-taking of sorts, immersed in the creative way of thinking and doing, where any “mistakes” that materialize are forgiven, paid for by the revelations and the lessons learned. It is through this way of working logically and intuitively through learned hands, that if you are lucky, you’ll reach one of those peaks in some kind of meaningful, if not supreme revelation. That is what keeps us going in the creative work . . reaching for those peaks, reaching for that sacred God-experience. 

Reaching beyond your grasp - Those who take risks in this spiritual growth process, may reap the most substantial rewards in their invention and reinvention of their Self. When you follow your dreams and invest in a “ leap of faith” , with no guarantees of the final outcome, you are lifted up, accessing a network of energy, the Life Force of the Universe; a Force largely unseen by us, but surely felt. When you have faith, you have trust. If, in your attempts to reach your goals and it doesn’t “work out”, you know you can always start again. With God the Force, and with persistence, you always get another chance. When you take such risks, when you attempt to reach beyond your grasp, to stretch and transform yourself, it is in that “reaching” that some say you connect with God, connect with the Nature of the Universe, the Way of the Universe. And in doing so, you stimulate spiritual and emotional growth so immediately, so dramatically. 

Accessing the Life Force and The Process requires faith – it is in this surrendering of yourself to The Process, The Way, that sweeps you along for the most dramatic emotional and spiritual ride ever. Through the creative process you find one of the ways to know your Creator. 

Doing and Being. It is extraordinary, for as an artist you work hard over time to develop a level of skill that allows you have the experience of moving from the initial activity of "doing" with the material, with the process and then, before you realize it, slipping into just a state of " being". When you are able to achieve this state, when you are totally present, where there is no past, no future - just the immediacy of "now." (a right-brain experience) It is then you are feeling your natural, authentic, unencumbered Self. It is a life-affirming experience! At any stage, immersed in the activity, you know you are on the right track when you lose track of time; you are much less aware of the sounds around you and are usually free of thinking of "what's next" on your "to do" list. In that regard, many people describe the experience of creating art as being therapeutic, having a healing nature, a sacred experience.

All of us, we are one. When you bring your talents and yourself to the world, creating and sharing your experiences with others, doing what you are “called” to do, it reinforces a deep intuitive understanding that we are all inter-connected, inseparable, and linked to a Universal Energy, a Higher Power, a Network infinitely larger than ourselves. The creative act has the capacity to transform us, expressing and informing us of our relation to the Universe and to that Higher Power within us all. It speaks to the design and order within our lives. It speaks to the Creator Spirit, the God within you, the God within me. 

The only environment that is truly important is the one you order out of your language, your thoughts, your beliefs, your ideals, your attitude ! These things speak of our character. It is the only space in which you will ever live and work. If you don't acknowledge this, internalize this, if you don’t prioritize and live your values, what you want to create in your life or in your art - it won't come out of your hands with any significant degree of depth and substance. To do otherwise, we will be like runners trying to run a race with a broken ankle. 

“There are moments in the struggle within the creative process when we feel that we are part of something larger than ourselves. For some, it takes place through creating a drawing or a sculpture, through writing, through teaching, a brief moment during a walk, or even on the dance floor where you, the music and your partner are One, ecstatically bound in a brief moment of perfection. Most often, it comes out of a "practiced" activity, where there is some degree of accumulated skill. It's then, for a time, that all of the disparaging elements and the imperfections of the world are defied and suspended and you experience some revelation, elevated to a privileged "knowing". Sometimes it can be described as a kind of peaceful sense that all is complete and" right" and for a time, everything comes together and you are part of that "rightness". Some put this experience in a religious context and call it “connecting, communicating with God;” others describe it in more secular terms as an elevated consciousness, as "Oneness" or a ‘Higher Self’.” – Dr. Dean Ornish ”Reversing Heart Disease.”

Getting the Wobbles Out.As an artist, working with clay has taught me a lot about life and living and for me, it is a metaphor for happiness and a sense of peace . . a reason and a way to praise God in my life. Clay has a nature – so tactile, soft, compliant, wet and musky. As an artist, I seek to control the nature of the clay so that I might create the pottery and sculpture I want. I’ve noticed that some of the same forces that shape a form on the potter’s wheel are some of the same forces that shape one’s life. In order to make a shape on the potter’s wheel the soft clay must be aligned and centered to get the “wobbles” out. Unless it is centered, it will waver, wobble and probably collapse. We spend a lifetime getting the “wobbles” out of our lives, getting them “on center”. Unless our lives are disciplined and governed by a hierarchy of values, life has no focus, no design. Living in God’s Word is not unlike working with clay. Listen to Him and he’ll center you, shape you, and work the wobbles out.