Aristotle said: “philosophy begins in wonder."
It also ends in wonder. The ultimate way we relate to the world as something sacred is by renewing our sense of wonder.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
On Spirituality and Creativity - Part 2
Creativity is a sort of perpetual motion machine. Creativity begets Creation which inspires more creativity. Creativity is also contagious (at least to those who allow themselves to be susceptible to it). It's fun to be around creative people. It inspires me and encourages me to be creative, too. Everything I create intentionally for the purpose of participating in the act of creation inspires me and empowers me to create something else.
I hope that occasionally I inspire others to be creative as well!
It will come as absolutely no surprise to anybody (but me, of course -- because I'm so utterly clueless) that writing fiction has been for me, at this stage in my life, the principal vehicle through which I participate in Creation. I know now that I hid in the Church and kept myself busy with all kinds of worthy activities that allowed me to avoid my true Calling because I was afraid. I was afraid of the demands a life of writing would require. I was afraid to put myself "out" there and make myself vulnerable before others.
When the "safety" of the Church became intolerable, I ventured out into a new way of living. When I quit bleeding off the steam of my creative engine, it revved up and went into overdrive, trying to make up for nearly fifty years of lost time.
My reason for exploring the subject of spirituality in a secular world was that I was beginning to think that in all my creativity and busy-ness, I had somehow lost touch with my spirituality. I wanted to revisit my Soul-Self. To my amazement, I discovered that I never lost touch with my Soul at all. It had escaped from the sack on my back where I carried it around, hidden, reserved for use only at "appropriate" times and places, i.e. in Church. Once I finally obeyed the Spirit Voice and sat down to do the work I was Called to do, my Soul-Self jumped out ahead of me, dancing naked, like David before the Ark, leading me down interesting paths where stories called out to me, begging to be told. I learned that there is nothing to fear in freedom, provided I was willing take the first step, alone.
The first joke I encountered when I took that step was: there is no such thing as alone. I am part of Creation. All Creation is my home and my refuge and my companion.
Today's joke is this: there is no such thing as secular. Everything I am and do and know and make is a part of sacred Creation. All of it is a gift from and all of it ultimately returns to the Holy. [I have to give St. Ignatius credit for this paragraph even if I have fractured his prose.] I just crossed a line beyond which words will not pass, so I have to back up now ....
Anyway, the idea of "secular spirituality" is a crock. There is no "secular spirituality" any more than there is a "religious spirituality." There is simply spirituality. Like intelligence, wisdom, wit, sexuality and other human attributes, spirituality is a Gift entrusted to us by the Life-Giver. Some of us have more or less of certain talents and the exact blend differs for each of us. It doesn't matter how much of any of those qualities we have or how they are blended. What matters is what I do with those Gifts that have been entrusted to me.
I express my spirituality in three distinct ways. Just walking around in Wonderland, I acknowledge, appreciate and enjoy Creation; that's equivalent to what I used to do in prayer and worship. I have been groping towards explaining that in my reflections on living liturgy in my daily life.
When I write, I am participating in the very act of Creation itself; that's the equivalent of deep meditation, beholding -- and participating in -- the Glory of the Lord at Work. Writing, not the religious life, is my Calling. I hereby do now and forevermore cast out the idea that I was ever called to be a nun; that wasn't the voice of God calling me. That was me wanting to go someplace to hide from God's voice. God wasn't having it, and God threw obstacles at my feet every time I got to close to becoming a Church "insider". The Voice has always told me to write, not to pray. The joke in that is that for me writing IS prayer!
My writing need not be overtly on the subject of religion or theology. In fact, non-preachy writing that is not overtly on the subject of religion may sometimes be the most uplifting. In any case, starting today I am putting aside the notion that there is any difference between secular spirituality and religious spirituality. Creation is. Life is. Spirituality is. None of them require an adjective.
Writing is my principal means of participating in the act of creation. It is a life-enhancing and joyful process. For me it is like heart-felt prayer or any work that requires total concentration and commitment: is spiritual per se. The subject doesn't matter. What matters is to obey the call to "write it down."