Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The spirituality of creativity, part 1: Fundamentals

Image by Eddi 07

"Are you feeling a vague discontent with your current circumstances? Do you have a desire to step out of yourself and realize a recurring fantasy?"


So began the session on creativity that was part of my church's series on Holistic Spirituality, presented by Paulist Fr. Tom Ryan. If you answered yes to these questions (as I immediately did when he posed them), then keep reading for a collection of my notes and takeaways on how creativity connects to faith.

NOTE: This session was last month. My notes were scribbled. I'm just re-reading them now. Bear with me as I decipher them and try to find quote attributions.

According to Fr. Ryan, the image we have of ourselves is only a small reflection of our capacity, with rooms within us that haven't even been explored yet. Exploring those rooms is part of individuation, which Carl Jung described as a "process of psychological differentiation, having for its goal the development of the individual personality."

In other words, creativity helps us delve into the instinctive and irrational side of life, and reconcile that with external norms that (might) oppose it. The result: a fruitful tension that leads to psychic energy. And our call as creative people is to live and work with and within that tension.

Fr. Ryan then defined creativity as the ability to see new possibilities in set ways of doing things. It's not a gated square, but a public park where anyone can pass -- not an extra, but a vital necessity.

Here's one Fr. Ryan quote I particularly liked:
We are all born originals. Yet so many of us end up looking like copies because we let others do thinking for us.
In this respect, creativity requires a willingness to abandon our own sense of mastery (real or perceived). We must be willing to experiment and project creativity into realms outside our comfort zones. A big ego risk, to be sure, but one that can set you free.

Ok, are we all feeling like we've got the basics down? Great! Then keep all this in mind until tomorrow when I post the second installment, which will outline the four spiritual gifts that come from connecting with your creativity.

(You can go on to parts two and three here.)

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