FATHER DAVID’S BLOG of 12/22/2019: While on retreat a couple of weeks ago I began the program, The Artist’s Way. This innovative and creative program has been around for over twenty five years and was created by Julie Cameron. Its primary purpose is to help individuals unlock the creative spirit that is in in each one of us but has remained hidden. It is a twelve week program that consists of three components:
1) Read a chapter of the book each week.
2) Write three pages a day in a journal known as the Morning Pages. These pages are not to be shared and they are to be written before you doing anything else including that first cup of coffee.
3) Follow the exercises at the end of each chapter to help get in touch with the inner artist that has not been heard from for quite some time. I have just begun this process and I have no doubt it will lead me to unlocking that place of creativity that has been buried for many years.
What does this have to do with Advent and Christmas? I think a lot actually.
For the last two Sunday mornings our focus in the Gospel of Matthew has been John the Baptist and his message of repentance. This Sunday our attention transitions to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Both John and Mary are examples as to how we might unlock the creative spirit that is in each one of us. At first this might seem hard to see but stay with me for a moment. The person and message of John the Baptist may appear to have nothing to do with creativity, but it does. His message was so counter to the one that had been delivered by the temple priests in Jerusalem.
What made John so attractive to so many was his authenticity. People would travel miles to hear and see him because they were drawn to the way he looked, what he ate and his message of repentance before the coming Kingdom of God. I think what John wanted to accomplish was to disrupt a person’s life so much so that the person would have to take a serious look at their lives. John’s message might have struck a chord in people, but they followed him because they were attracted to what he stood for — that change was coming. In a way I think you can say that John was giving permission to the people who traveled to hear him (and for us today) to let go of what we think we know and to try to live into the creative source that is in each one us.
Mary accomplishes the same thing but in a very different way. She encourages us to hold what happens to us lightly without judgement or reproach towards ourselves or others. I love the Gospel reading for Christmas Eve after Jesus is born, Mary ponders all that has happened to her in her heart. This posture of Mary is very creative as she is open to what God has planned for her. At first she was a scared teenage girl but she gradually consents to what God has in mind for her.
As we approach our yearly celebration of the birth of Christ where do you feel blocked in your relationship with God? What might you do in the coming year to allow your creative side to shine? Christmas is a time of new birth for each one of us and my prayer for 2020 is that we might be a parish that encourages and supports our creativity to shine just as the star that announced the birth of Christ over two thousand years ago.
Peace and a Blessed Christmas,
Fr. David, December 20, 2019