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Art, Delight, and the Spiritual Life (a guest post at Anam Cara)

I am delighted to have a guest post up at Anam Cara, the spiritual direction site run by the delightful Tara Owens.  Tara asked me to write about “art, delight, and the spiritual life” and here is an excerpt:

When Tara asked me to write about art, delight, and the spiritual life it was really that word “delight” which shimmered for me. Summer for me is a season of savoring sweetness and delight, of relishing the gift of abundance as I walk through our weekly farmer’s market or watch my dog romp and play in wide open fields or cherish long warm evenings.

A former theology professor of mine, Alex Garcia-Rivera (who sadly passed away last year), taught me a great deal about beauty. “Beauty,” he would say, “is that which moves the human heart.” I loved that definition, so simple and yet profound. When I cultivate beauty in the world through my art I am seeking to savor that which stirs my heart and offer that experience to others. I am giving honor to my experience of delight and trusting it as a source of wisdom for understanding the nature of the divine moving through my life.

Trusting our delight and what moves our hearts can sometimes be challenging for those of us who grew up in traditions suspicious of such things. It takes practice to remember the goodness God lavishly proclaims again and again in the creation story. When my teaching partner Betsey Beckman dances the creation story she says the words “it was so good” after each moment of creation with such utter conviction and joy that I remember the real meaning of those words. I feel them stir something in me – a recognition of the deep goodness of the creative act. It takes practice to cultivate our attention to where this kind of wonder arises spontaneously in our hearts and give it room to breathe fully.

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You can order Christine’s two newest books from The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom and Lectio Divina–The Sacred Arts: Transforming Words and Images into Heart-Centered Prayer

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