For those interested in using the vehicle of creativity for spiritual deepening, I offer one-on-one creative spiritual guidance. Creative guidance, as I embrace it, blends the inquiry of traditional spiritual direction with the imaginative paths of creative endeavor.
When entered into freely and playfully, creativity can move us into a more integrated, soulful space. As a result, it can be a powerful means to witness and reflect the Sacred within and around us. No artistic "skill" is required for this possibility. We're simply engaging natural creative inclinations.
Some people come with ideas or art forms in mind they'd like to apply to spiritual contemplation, but this isn't at all necessary. In our sessions, we can discuss options and find activities and forms that speak to your interests. Among many potential themes, we may explore art-making as an act of prayer. Likewise, we might spend time observing the connection between "flow" experiences and spiritual intuition. If desired, we can also apply creative activities to the exploration of particular spiritual passages. For creative guidance, I request that we spend at least one full session working in a traditional spiritual direction mode of discussion and contemplation before incorporating creative practices.
Important Note: Creative Guidance can cast spiritual and emotional passages in a different light. They can also offer a larger container for processing them. That said, creative guidance is not art therapy. You should know that I'm not trained as an art therapist, and I don't use creative practices for therapeutic purposes. I would be happy to offer a referral for an art therapist if that modality would better fit your needs.
Future Events: I will begin holding group workshops and retreats related to creative spiritual guidance later in 2020. I'll share more information on these offerings in the Soul Chapters monthly newsletters (you can subscribe below) and on the Soul Chapters Facebook page.
During a period of major transition several years ago, I turned to photography as an unexpected spiritual practice.
Adapting the lesson of an early Buddhist teaching, author Jack Kornfield wrote, “A spoon of salt in a glass of water makes the water undrinkable. A spoon of salt in a lake is almost unnoticeable.” This truth was how I came to photography.
No one escapes grief in this life, and at the time I took a turn with a series of losses and upheavals that left little intact. While the “managing” mind was overcome, intuition knew I needed a bigger container for the transition. In short, I needed a lake.
I took that metaphor and lived it—both literally and figuratively. I spent as much time at the lake (three of them actually) as I could. I sat on rocks and piers. I watched from park benches. I laid on beaches. I walked the trails that skimmed their shorelines.
And in those hours, their views and sounds filled all the space.
Grief has a disoriented, out-of-body nature to it. I struggled with the physical aspects of life then. I felt disconnected from my own body and actions. But in the presence of that water, this sense evaporated. I evaporated. What remained was pure, enfolding awareness. I slipped unfettered into that open expanse—wholly absorbed by the sensory life and subtle stories around me.
As I chose to revisit and photograph the same areas over the course of months and years, my intimacy with these landscapes deepened. Making pictures became a means to witness cycles of transformation in my own life by studying and framing those around me.
In the last few years, this practice has lovingly extended into an ongoing creative vision. It's a journey I find even richer as I l apply more technical dexterity to my intuitive process. For me, it's a continual apprenticeship of both skill and spirit.
From the beginning I've been drawn to photographing wild spaces and natural elements. I've maintained that focus in my work but have also extended into narrative photography. Whether I'm framing a sweeping vista or individual portrait, for me it's always about the quality of my own attentiveness. Can I let go of creative agenda and allow a landscape or person to distinctively reveal something new to me? Can I encounter a person or setting from a place of fascination and reverence? It's an approach I relate to (and retain from) my beginning experiences with photography—letting intimacy be the root of art.
My work has appeared in Capture Minnesota, Vol. XI, the PhotoPlace Exhibition Gallery in Middlebury, Vermont, the Southeast Center For Photography in Greenville, South Carolina, and A Smith Gallery in Johnson City, Texas.