True contemplation always overflows into creation—it becomes a creative act.
–Beverly Lanzetta, Radical Wisdom
Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identify, our own destiny. We are free beings and sons of God. This means to say that we should not passively exist, but actively participate in (God's) creative freedom, in our own lives, and in the lives of others, by choosing the truth. To put it better, we are even called to share with God the work of creating the truth of our identity.
-Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
It is essential to human being to fall apart, to fragment, disintegrate, and to experience the despair that comes with lack of wholeness. To what can we turn, then, in this moment of crisis? I believe it is at this critical moment that the possibility of creative living arises. If we can let go of our previous identities and move into the experience of the void, then the possibility arises for new forms of existence to emerge. Poiesis, the creative act, occurs as the death and re-birth of the soul. . . We are called upon constantly to re-form ourselves, to engage in what James Hillman calls 'soul-making' . . . The soul finds its form in art.
-Stephen K Levine, Poeisis: The Language of Psychology and the Speech of the Soul
Our approach to working with the arts is through the lens of the expressive arts where process is honored over product and a multiplicity of art modalities are explored as ways of accessing different insights into a particular experience. The languages of poetry, visual art, music, movement, and imagination are all brought to bear on the act of soul-making. In ancient traditions, all of the arts came together through rituals honoring life’s transitions.
The arts can become a vehicle for discovery where what is new within us is given safe space to emerge, where the soul is able to give expression and find form for its deepest longings. Creativity at heart is about cooperating with the divine work within us. Our work in the arts creates a safe space for participants to dive into the gifts of the creative process and listen for the invitations and discoveries shimmering there and what wants to emerge.
Abbey of the Arts offers resources for those who long to deepen their own path of creative expression, honoring it as an upwelling of the Spirit. The Abbey has a variety of classes, books, and articles to help support you in expressing your creativity more freely and authentically.
For further reading and reflection on creative expression, stop by these articles: