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Monk in the World Guest Post: Anne Buck – Awakening the Creative Spirit

I am delighted to share this beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read for Anne Buck’s reflection on finding her creative voice at the Awakening the Creative Spirit retreat. This retreat is being offered live April 21-26, 2024 in the Pacific Northwest with Kayce Stevens Hughlett and Betsey Beckman as facilitators.

Thirteen years ago I attended my first Awakening The Creative Spirit at St Andrew’s Retreat Center on the Hood Canal. I was following an interest that began with a couple of on-line courses at Abbey of the Arts with Christine Valters Paintner. At the time, I was in full time ministry as a hospital chaplain and had a practice in Spiritual Direction. 

At that time, part of me knew that I was artistic but I would never, ever have identified as an artist. Many people have been injured in some way, often in grade school, leading them to hold a belief they are not artistic. How many times do you hear words like, “I can’t even draw within the lines” or “I only draw stick people” or “I can’t sing” or “I’m not a poet/writer!” I was one of those people, so much so that I could encourage others but did not understand the process of being creative was, in fact, the learning, the invitation for growth. 

I studied art, I loved and appreciated art and I was creative with patients, providing coloring pages, hand labyrinths and music and I offered artistic expression protocols for my directees, but I did not fully implement creative expression as part of our time together. I was offering care from my knowledge and education, not necessity from my own felt experience. 

My time at Awakening the Creative Spirit was just that – a felt experience and a simple yet profound awakening. It offered me a set apart, designated time for just me to integrate creativity into my own spiritual practice and I began to see the growing edges of both my spiritual journey, and the way in which I was creative in the world around me. 

I return to Awakening the Creative Spirit as a helper now to take care of logistics and preparation and to support Kayce and Betsey as they facilitate. The container of this retreat is both brilliant and nurturing. The setting is breathtaking in its beauty, both outdoors with its view of the Olympic Mountains and inside with log walls and a rock fireplace, perfect for gathering in a circle. The food is all locally sourced and St. Andrews welcomes us warmly. Everything is taken care of so participants are able to leave their jobs and responsibilities and roles somewhere else and show up to explore their own creative exxpression. 

I go back each year to be a part of a creative and transformational process that always unfolds. I learn about my own creativity, my own growth and my own abilities to show up and be present. I return for the reminders that show up: I am a Creative Spirit. I have a voice and I am passionate about Awakening the Creative Spirit.

Anne Buck is a retired Board Certified Chaplain, a Spiritual Director, a Massage Therapist and a Certified Veriditas Labyrinth Facilitator and a long time volunteer with The Dougy Center for Grieving Children supporting families who have had a significant family member die. 

Anne is currently a caregiver for her husband and her mother after their strokes and diagnosis of dementia, learning first hand that the spirit or inner being that we are born with never dies.  The longing for connection and purpose and meaning is the spiritual journey of all people and by being present with others towards the end of life there is always depth and ongoing growth.

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