Friday, May 25, 2012

Three things you can learn about the spiritual life from being an artist

Jen Loser is one of our regular Aggiornamento Artists

Our very own Jen Loser has been featured in an article here for FOCUS ministries.  Here's the article, and a link back to the FOCUS blog.  Thanks Jen!

Three things you can learn about the spiritual life from being an artist

Growing up, the arts were a more prevalent part of my life than the Catholic Church. I was baptized at 10 and then developed a love for the Catholic faith later in high school. However, my mom - a painter and all around artistic force - encouraged me to be creative from a young age. Long before I learned to pray the rosary or knew the truth of the Eucharist, I was familiar with watercolors, collage, and pottery. For me, the arts became a school of learning about God, who is massively creative. The three main things I learned from being an artist are foundational for how I encounter Christ today.

1. Discipline helps overcome obstacles.
Inspiration sometimes comes as a quiet and still voice, and I have to coax it out. I find that being disciplined helps my inspiration to emerge. So I set aside time for creativity and stick to it. The same is true for the spiritual life.
For example, the best time to pray is not just when the mood strikes. Loyalty to your pre-determined prayer time can have a radical impact on your relationship with God. Just as maintaining a regular time for creativity allows me to hear the whispers of inspiration, regular time for prayer gives space for God to speak to my heart.

2. Masterpieces are not made overnight.
Once I became serious about making art I realized how time-intensive it is. Not just in terms of actually sitting down in my studio and painting or drawing, but in how it also requires time to ponder, jot down inspirations, and find materials. When it actually comes time to do the work it can take days, weeks, and even years.
The Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi known as "the architect of God" knew this well. From 1883 until his death in 1926 Gaudi worked tirelessly on his masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia (the Basilica of the Holy Family) in Spain. His work is still under construction and may not even be finished within the next twenty years.
God is the Creator we all imitate through artistic expression. We are God’s masterpiece, and He is willing to take time forming us, molding us, and perfecting us.

3. Don’t underestimate the power of collaboration.
Although I grew up surrounded by the arts, I wasn’t always so quick to call myself an artist. Not until I started meeting with a group of creative types did I begin living out what Bl. John Paul II in his Letter to Artists calls “the special vocation of the artist”.  This vocation is to create. He goes on to say “artists express themselves to the point where their work becomes a unique disclosure of their own being.” A daunting task if I do say so myself. By speaking with other artists about their struggles and triumphs I became more willing to have my own.
How true this is in the spiritual life as well. Our life with Christ, while very personal, is never private. We must encourage one another and build each other up (cf. 1 Thes. 5:11); this is the beautiful responsibility of the Christian. We can help our brothers and sisters become alive in the faith and they can help us as well!
The spiritual life, like the creative life, takes discipline, time, and support to develop. I remind you with St. Paul that what we will be has not yet been revealed (cf. 1 Jn. 3:2). Allow Christ to form your life into the masterpiece that he desires it to be.


No comments:

Post a Comment