Mystics hear voices. the question “Do you hear voices?” is used to sort the sane from the insane. And yet, as artists, we do hear voices and most insistently when we seek the guidance for our art. We are led. We are prompted. We are urged. We are called.
~ Julia Cameron, from The Complete Artist’s Way, the 2nd Book, Walking in This World
Every time I pick up a Julia Cameron book, any of her many books, I have cried. My eyes get misty with every word she utters. There is a truth about her, and confirmation of so many things within me as an artist. She speaks to the spiritual work of art.
Art may be the finest form of prayer. Making art is quite literally a path “to our Maker.” In the act of creation, the creator reveals himself or itself to us and we, too, are revealed to ourselves as something of the divine spark from which we ourselves are made. It is this primal fact of connection, artist to artist, Great Creator to us as creator, that the truest sense of our own identity is born. We make art not merely to make our way in the world but also to make something of ourselves, and often the something that we make is a person with an inviolable sense of inner dignity. We have answered yes when our true name was called.
~ again – from Julia Cameron, from The Complete Artist’s Way, the 2nd Book, Walking in This World
So much of being an artist is responding to the life around us but also, it is a response, mostly to a deep calling within us. Deep calls out to deep, and something fragile moves inside of us to reach out and answer. When we look at art that is larger than us, that is brave and bold and going someplace – we are tugged along toward that something bigger within us that has something to say. There is recognition, realization and almost, a remembering. A waking up to what we know we have already, what has been said inside of us in our dreams, that needs only to be said again out loud.
I am a creative mother to creative children. It is important for me to be true to the art that is within me so that I am better prepared to be responsive and encouraging to the art that pours out of them. When I have not given myself time to stare out of windows, as poets are prone to do, according to Billy Collins, I begin to run on empty. When I am running on empty, I can be snappish, and bossy, like Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax.
Several years ago, I wrote a poem about the longing for time to pour myself out onto the page, and I didn’t feel I ever had that time. I knew I needed it, and as a mom to little children, while managing a business with my husband, and working a farm, I had precious little left for my own whimsy. My heart needed it. My spirit needed it. My children needed their mom to have fresh, poet eyes on the world, and on them, to be able to find the beauty all around us in every moment.
I needed my soul space, my benediction, my quiet before the storm, and I found I needed to wake up earlier, much earlier than I had been. I needed a full hour or two before the house awoke, to be able to absorb the words of others, to let precious phrases wash over me and remind me of all that is and all that can be. I needed time to expand my horizons, to breathe deeply and stretch my arms to embrace the world without anyone around to think I looked silly or to ask me what I was doing.
After soaking up the words of other artists and poets and writers as an appetizer, I needed to delve into the pouring out of my own words onto the page as a main course, as my entree, my food and sustenance.
Soon after I had started waking up earlier to read and write and start my day with quiet, I heard a woman speak about Stress and the difference between being Overloaded and Overwhelmed. Tara Rodden Robinson spoke to the artist within me, and made me cry in recognition of the stretching that was taking place in my brain, my body and my world. She talked about the science of our brains and all that we are trying to make them do in our modern world, and the refreshing and reconnecting we need, the spirit time, the daydream and wonder time, the getting up earlier to soak up the quiet time we need in order to rejuvenate. I had already started doing this, but hearing it from a Ph.D., from a wise and wonderful woman, a scholar, and a mystic herself, confirmed for me that I was on my path to healing.
In the time since first hearing her speak, I have written several articles in response to the message she brought me:
It seemed important to share Tara again, because I think many of us are stressed beyond belief. I hear it in the humor articles written by moms who are juggling toddlers and life and home and sanity. We relate to these bits of crazy, and start seeing everything in our own lives as too much. Sometimes, I think we need to step back from the edge, and hold our hearts still for a moment and breathe in something other than the chaos surrounding us. We need a salve, a balm, a restorative essence to wash over us and help us handle more than we feel capable of handling. In the moments we tuck away for ourselves, in the moments of quiet we grant ourselves, even though we are tired – we will be given energy to rebound and be there for our babies. They need full mamas who are able to be present and see their antics and adventures with joy instead of frustration.
If we are artists, which so many of us are – we just forget, but when we claim it, we get to start living again. We get to start feeding our souls and our spirits, and in turn, we get to be the people we are intended to be, which gives us space to hold all those in our circles with more love than we knew we could offer.
Oh, how I love this time. Go, be blessed!
photo from here