I get energized as I meet spiritual directors in the Covenant Community and discover the many ways in which they walk with others along the way. I first met Stacy about 8 years ago and was excited when she agreed to share her story and some of her work with us. She is a contemplative artist and spiritual director in the Journey Partners Community in Mississippi.
Jane – Stacy, what was your first introduction to spiritual direction? Where did your journey begin?
Stacy – Oddly enough, my first introduction to spiritual direction came through the novels of British author, Susan Howatch. I became familiar with her work, in particular, a novel called Glittering Images, during a time of intense spiritual upheaval in the late 1990's, while reading Brennan Manning's Abba's Child. It was in Glittering Images that I first encountered the fictional character of Father Jonathan Darrow, an Anglican priest who set a rather high bar when it came to shaping my naive, yet compelling, idea of what a spiritual director and spiritual direction was. At that point in time I had no notion of ever
Jane - Tell me about your path that brought you from your introduction to spiritual direction to your ministry of spiritual direction and creativitiy.
Stacy – Around the same time that I began the Journey Partners program, I had also begun to draw mandalas. I had been looking for a creative outlet for many years, and when I came across that particular art form, through the writings of Carl Jung, I felt as though all the color I had bottled up inside suddenly came pouring out. At that time, I felt very torn about which path to pursue…training to become a spiritual director or art? I loved both, but didn't see how the two could successfully co-exist. One day as I was flipping through a copy of Presence magazine, I saw an ad for a retreat called Awakening the Creative Spirit: Experiential Education for Spiritual Directors in the Expressive Arts that was being offered through Abbey of the Arts. It was totally an aha! moment, as I realized that my two passions could indeed become one. I never did get to attend that particular retreat, but I did go on to learn more about the Abbey and its founder, Christine Valters Paintner, who has become a wonderful mentor and friend. I have completed several of her online classes, and presently help to co-facilitate one of them (Way of the Monk, Path of the Artist). I am also a member of SOMA (Sacred Order of Monks and Artists), a "virtual” monastery that Christine established which is open to those who have completed Way of the Monk, Path of the Artist.
Jane - What has been the most influential reading that helped form your journey? What are you reading today?
Stacy – Two books that stand out early on are A Tree Full of Angels by Macrina Wiederkehr, and Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction by Margaret Guenther. Macrina's book introduced me to the practice of lectio divina, for which I will forever be grateful, and Guenther's book was very down to earth and practical. It helped me to name and understand who and what I am as a "holy listener." Currently I am re-reading The Artist's Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom by Christine Valters Paintner, a book I highly recommend for anyone wishing to integrate contemplative practice with creative expression.
Jane - If you could travel back to any period in the history of Christian spirituality, knowing what you know today, when would that be and what spiritual leader would you most want to encounter and spend time with? … and why?
Stacy – I never thought I'd want to visit the Middle Ages, but to be able to spend time with Hildegard of Bingen, I would gladly forgo modern conveniences! She is such a fascinating woman, ahead of her time in many ways…and of course, I'd love to talk with her about her mandalas!
To learn more about Stacy, please visit her blog: http://amagicmomandhermandalas.blogspot.com/
Here are two of Stacy's creations, enjoy!