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Creativity and Divine Surprise: Finding the Place of Your Resurrection

Creativity and Divine Surprise: Finding the Place of Your Resurrection

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Creativity and Divine Surprise: Finding the Place of Your Resurrection

207 pagine
2 ore
Aug 1, 2005


Deepen your relationship with God as you discover your God-given gift of creativity. Creativity is usually defined narrowly and associated only with artists or children.

"Creativity is so much more than art making," writes Kincannon. "It is a tool for navigating through everyday experiences to find the sacred in each God-given moment. Those who believe they lack creativity have relegated it to remote regions of their life, burying it under the need for security, approval, and control. However,…creativity does not die; it simply waits to be unearthed and set free."

Creativity and Divine Surprise couples insightful meditations with thoughtful exercises that will help you celebrate your divine spark and connect with God. Can't draw a straight line? Color-blind? No worries. If you yearn for God and desire greater awareness of God's presence in your life, you're ready for this book.

Through Kincannon's words, you'll see creativity as a source of revelation, joy, healing, and fulfillment, and we all need those things. Ready to dance, draw, paint, take pictures—masterpieces or not? Let the Creator work in you through your creativity, so that you become God's masterpiece.

Aug 1, 2005

Informazioni sull'autore

Karla M. Kincannon, an artist and United Methodist minister, founded SpiritArt Ministries, an innovative spiritual direction practice to serve individuals and groups through the healing arts. Karla earned a BA in art from Virginia Wesleyan College and an MDiv from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. A former campus minister, Karla taught religion courses at the college level. The author of numerous articles about the spiritual journey, she lectures, leads workshops and facilitates retreats in a variety of ecumenical settings nationwide. She lives in east Tennessee with her husband, the Reverend Dr. Jim Noseworthy.

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Anteprima del libro

Creativity and Divine Surprise - Karla M. Kincannon




Now the LORD said to Abram, Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.


What if the ache in your heart and all of your longings are really a longing for God? she asked me. In the ensuing silence, that settled upon us like heavy dew on dry grass, I could hear a door opening. It was the door to my soul, and I was about to embark on a journey that would take me inward to the place of my resurrection. Through one solitary question my spiritual director gave me the key that would free me from years of stagnation in unfulfilled longing, and neither of us knew it.

If you have ever experienced an undefined longing, a pointed desire, or even a yearning to be whole, this book is an invitation to begin your search for what ultimately satisfies. For centuries people of faith have responded to an ache in the heart as a sacred longing for personal experiences of the holy. This longing has initiated thousands of pilgrimages for the purpose of connecting with mystery, finding answers to life’s deepest questions, and encountering the deeply real. All pilgrimages have an inner component, and many are undertaken without physically leaving one’s dwelling place. It is the inward journey that takes us to our most sacred place, the place we are closest to God and most uniquely and authentically ourselves. Here we find the fulfillment of all our longings.


In the early Christian era, many Celtic Christians embarked on a kind of pilgrimage called a peregrinatio. Unlike the pilgrimages to the Holy Land undertaken by Christians in the Middle Ages, a peregrinatio proposes no specific relic to see, shrine to visit, or icon to venerate. Nothing allows the pilgrim to return home with a sense of I’ve been there and done that. Instead, a peregrinatio is a wandering into the unknown, inaugurated by the pilgrim’s inner conviction of fate and fortune. Essentially a peregrinatio represents travel for the sake of Love, initiated and sustained by the love of God. It calls the traveler to leave all that is familiar, to let go of security and any goals or desires for life except one: to find the place of one’s own resurrection.¹

Embarking on a peregrinatio today may not take us to distant lands, but it will take us on a pilgrimage to discover who we are and for what purpose God created us. This transformative journey leads us to our true home in God where we give birth to our authentic self. Like our Celtic Christian ancestors, we are called to journey for the sake of Love, which requires making sacrifices, letting go of what we have worked hard to acquire. On this pilgrimage, we sacrifice such needs as those for security, control, and approval, replacing them with our love for God. As we journey toward freedom and fulfillment, only the love of God can help us reach our destination.


Abandoning ourselves to God’s mercy comprises the beginning, middle, and end of a peregrinatio. It does not matter that we do this perfectly; what matters is that we try. God will meet us where we are and carry us a little farther. On the inner journey we learn to trust that God wants the best for us and will, indeed, show us the way to our place of resurrection, the place where we are reborn into our true self. Beginning the inward spiritual journey initiates the pilgrimage of a lifetime. If you have a longing in your heart, you already have begun.

I would not want to commence on this inner pilgrim’s journey without the benefit of insights learned from artists and from my own artistic calling. Artists point the way toward transformation on the pilgrim’s path. They have made it into adulthood with their creativity intact, giving them special tools for the inner pilgrimage. Creativity shapes artists into people who perceive the unseen reality of the Divine woven into the fabric of life. With an ability to hear and see the things of God, they perceive the pulse of life underneath the surface of all activity, a pulse that most of us are prone to miss even though we search for it. These creative individuals dream dreams, see visions, and listen intently to all the layers of creation. These meaning makers assist us in making sense of the good and terrible things that happen in life. Living and breathing their creativity, artists have much to teach the pilgrim within each of us.


The following six sections in Creativity and Divine Surprise discuss movements in the creative process and corresponding experiences on the pilgrim’s path. Most studies on the creative process include five stages of creativity: preparation, frustration, incubation, illumination, and elaboration. I have added a sixth stage—and a sixth section: encounter. Without this mysterious and mystical element, the creative process is less than it can be and less than it is intended to be.

All stages of the creative process share equal importance. We find some less intense and others more fun, but we need each one to complete the creative cycle. Once we are familiar with the stages of the creative process, they can act as signposts or mile markers on the spiritual journey, letting us know we have not lost our way even when we cannot see the path in front of us. Consider these stages of the creative process only as a guide not a rigid formula for traversing the inner journey. One thing is certain: if we think we know what God is going to do in our life, the Divine probably will do something different.

Though I describe how artists use their creativity, the discussion of the creative process in the following pages introduces what all individuals experience whenever they use their creativity. I hope the description of the artist’s use of creativity can be a guide for you. May the artist in these pages help you understand and experience your own creative spirit so that it can serve as a tool for you on the pilgrim’s journey.

When you understand your creativity, taking the time to develop it like a spiritual discipline, you forge a pathway to the Divine. Like any other spiritual discipline, creativity is only a gateway on the path where the One Who Loves Us does the guiding, the healing, and the transforming. I pray that learning to use your creativity will facilitate your inner pilgrim’s journey toward wholeness and union with God. May you hear in these pages and between the words, whispers of the Creator God calling you to journey into heart and soul to the place that contains the deepest desire for who you are to be in this life. As you seek, you will find; and what you will find is the place of your own resurrection.


For everything there is a season, and a time

for every matter under heaven.


To encourage experience of your creativity, I invite you to engage in a creative exercise or opportunity for reflection at the end of each meditation. These exercises allow you to explore the connection between your creativity and spirituality. They are intended for ordinary people. You do not have to be a trained artist or spiritual giant to use them. If you yearn for God and desire greater awareness of God’s presence in life through your creativity, you are ready. (If you are an accomplished artist, try using your nondominant hand to execute the exercises that require drawing or painting in order to receive the most from them.)

I hope the exercises will be a means of receiving God’s grace as well as a source of enjoyment. These opportunities for reflection and reclaiming your creativity are intended to encourage and guide as you listen to the still small voice within. This voice connects you to the Divine Creator who calls you toward your most authentic self. Though the exercises invite travel inward, they are not intended to be therapy. Journeying on the inner path may lead to areas that need healing. If these exercises uncover such places, consider seeking out a trained therapist or spiritual director for help.

Those of you who have walked the pilgrim’s path of faith for several years and are accustomed to experiencing God’s presence may find the exercises beckon you into new ways of knowing God. Because most of us typically communicate with God through words, some exercises focus on images rather than words. At first you may feel awkward and clumsy attempting them. Many people feel this way initially when exploring their creativity. Usually the feeling goes away as familiarity with various artistic mediums grows. Be assured: there is no wrong way to do these exercises. Feel free to play with them or ignore them, to edit them or to repeat them, as you wish.

What to Do When Trying Something New

When experiencing something new, many of us hear an internal critical voice getting louder as we feel more vulnerable and unsure of ourselves. That critical voice often derives from an old childhood message telling us we didn’t measure up or were somehow inadequate. Being chosen last for the ball team, being asked what our drawing was when it was perfectly clear to us, or competing with a sibling more adept at getting attention may have given birth to our inner critical voice. This voice frequently gets in the way of intimacy with the Divine Creator, keeping us from fully knowing the love of God.

If you find your critical voice raising its volume during one of the exercises, speak to it: tell it to go away until you are done. Also ask Christ to intercede and stand between you and the source of the critical remarks, protecting you from their barbs. If you need to address this persistent voice more directly, skip ahead to Do Not Fear in the section called Encounter. It deals specifically with this aspect of being human on the spiritual path and creative journey.

Creativity as Prayer

These exercises are meant to be prayerful. As you begin each one, ask the Creating God to guide you, revealing what you need to know and do. The process is more important than the product, so pay attention to what happens within you. This is soul work.

Try to express feelings, sensations, and thoughts honestly, without censoring or criticizing them. Do not strive to produce artistic masterpieces; you will miss the heart of the experience. If instructed to draw, don’t worry about being representational or making it look good. If directed to write, don’t worry about finding the perfect words. The process of expressing the deep stirrings of your soul holds more value than the finished work. You can also approach these exercises by picturing yourself getting out of the way to let God speak through you. Let the Creator work in you through your creativity, so that you become God’s masterpiece.

Art from the Soul

A colleague and friend of mine the Reverend Beth Chadsey coined the phrase art from the soul to describe the kind of work done in these exercises. As you focus on art from the soul, you may notice your inner life—the soul—speaks in symbols. The soul is not literal-minded; therefore, it is not wise to interpret symbols in the end product literally. Noticing symbolism becomes especially significant when drawing or painting. You may need to reflect on the symbols uncovered in each exercise to discern the meaning behind them. This consideration requires the use of your imagination and a little time. The meaning may not always be self-evident. However, once you engage your imagination, the sacred becomes very clear.

Before You Begin

Here are a few suggestions for doing the exercises:

1. You will need unhurried and uninterrupted time. Most of the exercises can be done in forty-five minutes or less. A few will take longer. I like to set a timer, let the answering machine pick up the calls, and tell my family I am unavailable for anything other than an emergency. Sometimes this works; other times it does not. We all do the best we can with the circumstances life dictates.

2. Do not force yourself to do the exercises. Trust the Holy Spirit to guide you into those which will be helpful for you.

3. These exercises are immensely personal. Show them only to those who understand the inner life and have a compassionate heart. If you are working through this book with a group, sharing the finished exercises in an open and safe environment can continue the process of spiritual growth. Confidentiality is an important part of any group process. Make sure participants agree to keep to themselves all conversations shared. Remember: the soul only speaks when it feels safe.

4. You will need a few art supplies for the exercises. Each exercise lists the needed supplies. Many of the supplies work for more than one exercise. I have tried to keep the number of supplies to a minimum.

Let’s get started.

May the stars light your way

and may you find the interior road.

Forward! (traditional Irish saying)²


Seeing the Things of God

Many artists have spoken of seeing things differently while drawing and have often mentioned that drawing puts them into a somewhat altered state of awareness.



journal and pen

notepad and pencil

one-time-use camera

A friend of mine says Christianity can be summed up in one word: awareness. On the spiritual path, mystics are those who are aware; their eyes have been opened to the things of God and they have seen. They know themselves to be deeply loved by God, experiencing the Divine

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