At our retreat to plan the Create in Me retreat, we tried the art exercise/meditation that our leader had planned to have us do the first night of the Create in Me retreat. I wrote this post about the process. To sum up, we arrived to our tables after breakfast to find 3 markers at our seats; everyone had different colors. Our leader brought in a blank calendar page, October, for each of us. We were told to fill in our calendars however we'd like. We could use the markers of our neighbors, but we couldn't talk. We would have 10 minutes. For the more recent Create in Me retreat, we had the materials under our seats.
The one below is mine:
We had just finished Easter, but clearly my brain has moved on to the next liturgical holiday, Pentecost, the holiday that celebrates the arrival of the Holy Spirit in tongues of flame.
Other people, however, had calmer images of grapes:
I was interested to see how people approached this exercise. Some filled in each square individually:
Some creations were more tightly controlled than others:
I can see the patterns in the piece above, but less so in the selections below.
And some people refused to be boxed in by calendar squares:
In the end, we took our calendar pages and hung them up around one of our main meeting areas: fascinating to see the different approaches.
What does it all mean? We talked about the activities that fill our calendars and our attempts to tame our schedules. We all wrestle with the same issues: too much that we'd like to do and too little time to do it all.
But the exercise reminded us that we each get precisely the same amount of time, no matter how we want to divide or decorate our little boxes. When we take a hard look at how we spend our time, we'd probably be amazed at how much time we're not utilizing well. How much television are we watching? How much Internet wandering? Are we exercising enough or not enough? Can we make a pot of soup that can nourish us for several days or do we feel the need to whip up something fresh each day?
And more importantly, can we find some extra time for God if we let go of some of the other things that clog our calendars.
I've only used this exercise in groups of grown ups, but I imagine that it would work equally well in groups of adolescents or children. It's a creative exercise that doesn't require skills that we don't already have--and most of us have the tools (crayons or markers), too. It's easily adapted to many types of groups and can lead easily to many kinds of exercises: meditation, discussion, Bible study, a different kind of art project.
I'm a lifelong Lutheran, and although I'm aware of some of the problems with Liberation Theology, it has spoken to me for much of my adolescent and adult life. All of the thoughts on this blog are mine (or those of commenters), and I don't intend to speak for any other Lutherans or Liberation Theologians.
A poet, a scholar, an administrator, a wanna-be mystic--always wrestling with the temptation to run away to join an intentional community--but would it be contemplative? social justice oriented? creative? in the mountains? in the inner city?--may as well stay planted and wrestle with these tensions and contradictions here, at the edge of America.
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My Poetry and Creativity Blog
To read my posts on creativity, poetry, and a host of related topics (and the occasional poem of mine), go here. You can also order both of my chapbooks from links on the creativity blog or contact me to purchase a signed copy of either book.