If you’re looking for a disciplined approach and a guide to walk you through each practice and to help you make the connections between spirituality and art, allow me to recommend Christine Valters Paintner’s latest book, The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom. Much like Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, Paintner’s book is set up as a 12 week intensive immersion into techniques and practices that will make us better artists and deepen our spiritual experiences.
You might be saying “Twelve weeks? Isn’t Advent 4 weeks?”
Yes, it is. So this book could take you beyond the Advent season–or you could choose 4 chapters which sound most interesting and do those activities for the week.
Paintner’s book finds inspiration from monastic practices. Paintner is not the first person who has noticed the similarity between artists and monks, but her insights bear repeating. Both groups work in fields that aren’t always honored by the larger community. Both groups are largely misunderstood by the larger community. Both groups engage in practices that aren’t always understood. Both groups have to practice some sort of contemplation to do what they do. Both groups have to establish boundaries. In many cases, both groups experience a sense of awe and wonder on a more regular basis than members of the regular world will experience.
Paintner’s book is a wonderful introduction to monasticism. It’s also a wonderful introduction to a variety of practices that can be used in a number of ways. She has her readers make wisdom cards and arts altars. She has her readers experiment with movement in a variety of ways. She offers guided meditations. She suggests that readers play with poetic forms and fairy tales. The book includes poems, Bible verses, and quotes, and Paintner encourages the ancient practice of Lectio Divina, close reading which allows readers to uncover wisdom.