Bread comes to us in different ways as we continue our spiritual paths; a significant way is through the written works of others sharing our common journey. It is through these book reflections by spiritual directors from the Covenant Communities that we offer this nourishment for the “Tending of our Souls”
Jane - Ann Homer, tell me what drew you to The Artist’s Way.
Ann Homer - As a reader and a seeker, I was drawn to The Artist’s Way by its cover and subtitle, “A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.”
As a counselor and spiritual director, I find that this book addresses many of the issues faced by individuals stuck in over-work and anxiety. My personal experience with this book touched my journey in these areas and I knew it could be a tool for those with whom I work.
Working hard and long is applauded in our culture. One is rewarded for sacrificing self for others. This cultural mindset takes precedence over self-care, play, and spiritual reflection. Left unexamined it can lead to resentment, anger and a diminished sense of life’s potential. Our work becomes wholly time-consuming rather than holy time.
Jane - If you were recommending this book to a friend or colleague, what would you tell them?
Ann Homer: - I would share how this book changed my life and how it gave me the spiritual courage to be more true to who I am. When experienced with a small group, the book has powerful life transforming potential. I have witnessed people change careers; move to different locations; reconnect with estranged family in a healthy way; and discover or re-discover their real purpose in life.
The Artists’ Way is a guidebook to authenticity through spiritual wholeness. It becomes even more powerful when coordinated with simple hands-on art and writing. The intent is not to become a fine artist but to create an authentic, rich life. The process creates an environment in which one can explore the blocks to living authentically.
The first time I read this book and worked the exercises provided, I realized how out of balance my life was. It also became clear that I had lost the important spiritual center of my life. I started with small changes that grew to bigger ones. My right brain began to be used more, my pace began to slow, and these shifts impacted the way I worked.
No one in my immediate circle supported my changes. The Artist’s Way became a spiritual practice that gave me trust and support. As a spiritual director I have learned to listen for the Holy and respond to that inner guidance. I do the same in my practice of direction with others as they face fears and anxieties in their lives.
Jane - If you had the opportunity to sit down with the author of this book, what would you want to ask her to help deepen your understanding and insight for soul-tending, your own and that of your ministry?
Ann Homer - First, I would express gratitude to Julia for sharing her God-given creativity in writing this book. I would then ask her to talk more about these questions –
- You describe “enthusiasm” as Greek for “filled with God”. How did you make the initial connection between enthusiasm and the spiritual journey?
- How have you observed play without a goal as an important avenue to God?
- My experience of working with groups around the fear of failure and success is that creativity is a pathway through pain to significant release. What have you observed around this fear?
- You state that most blocked creatives have an addiction to anxiety. In what ways have you found the practice of spiritual creativity to be a path to lowering anxiety?
- You wrote that it is natural to create and that God will hand you what you need. Are you hopeful that individuals are listening less and less to society’s emphasis on busyness in work as they listen more to the voice of God within, allowing their creative authenticity and true nature to come forth?
Jane - Are there books or other resources addressing similar aspects of the spiritual journey that you have found helpful?
Ann Homer - From the poet’s view of spiritual seeking, I love The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. For the artist’s journey, I recommend Art Is a Spiritual Path by Pat. B. Allen and Christine Paintner’s on-line ministry at abbeyofthearts.com. The spiritual practice of Centering Prayer is core to this way of being.
Cameron, Julia. The Artist Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc, 1992.