I’ve been searching for meaning through my creative process for a long time. I’ve always painted. Somewhere in my thirties I started writing about that process. My work has changed over time. It was once more representational. Now it’s abstract. It was once more overtly spiritual. Now, it’s the process that’s spiritual, but you might not see this in the product. At one point, I kept journals and wrote feverishly in them about my art, my life, and God. Somewhere along the line, I moved away from that. I started writing about my painting process instead. I have discovered that “creative mindfulness” is part of that process. The joy of being in the present moment while I create is something I try to articulate through words and art. I’ve also been exploring liminality in my art: how I paint while I’m waiting for what’s next, and how all the “Befores,” “Right Nows,” and “Tomorrows” can all speak at once through my creative expression. As I continue to explore, I continue to share. Some new discovery, pleasure, or insight continues to be my obsession.
Since I hit 50, I’ve been hit by the desire for my work, my purpose, and my process to be more integrated. I have been looking for threads: things that weave through my work, my writing, and my creative experience. A year ago, even, I was struggling to identify connections. Recently, I have unearthed a few themes.
I see that every stroke I’ve made and every word I’ve written has been an attempt to sort things out for myself- to find my meaning. I see that my creative process has always been central for me. I understand that my spirituality has always mattered even though how I express it has changed form. The biggest theme, however, is hope. I’ve never given up on it even when my words and works were darkest. I have always been convinced that hope is here.
For quite a while, I’ve been worried that I’ve lost God along the way. I’ve felt like my ways of finding hope and happiness are not the most pleasing to Him. I am beginning to think that my spiritual practices have just shifted and changed. Art making is now my most pivotal one. Sharing the meaning I find in my work, and through my work, is next in line. Running has been a constant. The experience of running and listening to music in the sunshine has always been euphoric. Sometimes, I just lie in the sun with headphones on and leave out the running. These are the ways I am most happy.
I feel all this pressure to complete a daily devotional and return to my old ways of picking through the Bible with zeal. I try to pick up these old ways I connected with God, but it doesn’t stick. I’m just not motivated. These practices that once felt exhilarating are now lackluster. Is God disappointed that I am avoiding him?
I’m riddled with guilt that I don’t pray and carry out spiritual practices the way I used to. The truth about me is that all I want to do is paint, lie in the sun and listen to music, run, and write. God, forgive me for this. I am seeing that I cannot change this. I have tried, but I always return to the pleasure of what brings me pleasure today. Today, these are the things that bring me meaning and hope. They are the things that let me see You. Does it matter to You what I do to bring You close?
This is where I am at on my journey today. I’m still sharing my story. Some of that story is still the same, and some of it has changed. Tomorrow, I will still be on the journey, but I don’t know what it will look like. I’ll take a stab at it, though. It will be a journey shared through the eyes of an artist. All the ways that I am now finding hope will still be there. Spirituality will still matter. I will still be encouraging others to share as well. Today, this is what I know about my next Journey on Canvas.
Join me as I journey forward. Communicate, alongside me, all the ways that you find hope. Share that process here or elsewhere. Find hope in the possibility that someone else might see that hope is here.