The God of Artists

Many of us equate difficulty with virtue — and art with fooling around.  Hard work is good.  A terrible job must be building our moral fiber. Something — a talent for painting, say — that comes to us easily and seems compatible with us must be some sort of cheap trick, not to be taken seriously.  On the one hand, we give lip service to the notion that God wants us to be happy, joyous and free.  On the other hand, we secretly think that God wants us to be broke if we are going to be so decadent as to want to be artists.  Do we have any proof at all for these ideas about God?

Julia Cameron

You may have noticed that this week’s post have a bit of a theme about what it means to take our life and our art seriously.

I read the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron around the time it was published back in 1992.  It’s a book that changed my life by expanding my beliefs about work, art, spirituality and talent.  I return to the exercises in that book every so often, and have been writing in a journal daily since the early 1990’s mostly because of that book.

I didn’t become an acclaimed artist by reading Julia Cameron’s book, but my life started to become a work of art from that point forward.  I took her following words to heart from the Artist’s Way:

“Making art begins with making hay while the sun shines. It begins with getting into the now and enjoying your day. it begins with giving yourself some small treats and breaks.  “This is extravagant but so is God” is a good attitude to take when treating your artist to small bribes and beauties.  Remember you are the cheapskate, not God. As you expect God to be more generous, God will be able to be more generous to you.”

This approach changed my life for the better, so every so often I write about Julia Cameron’s ideas and books in case she they could help you too.  I recommend the Artist’s Way and her follow-on books to any of you who are trying to write your destiny!

Daily Contemplation:

Are you generous with your inner and outer artist?

Do you believe that God or the Universe is extravagant and wants to share some of that extravagance with you?

Does God love and cherish artists?

Ferdinand and the Enchantment of Opening to Awe

The Story of Ferdinand
The Story of Ferdinand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ferdinand ran to the middle of the ring and everyone shouted and clapped because they thought he was going to fight fiercely and butt and snort and stick his horns around.  But not Ferdinand.  When he got to the middle of ring  he saw the flowers in all the lovely ladies’ hair and he just sat down quietly and smelled.  He wouldn’t fight and be fierce no matter what they did.  He just sat and smelled.  And the Banderilleros were mad and the Picadores were madder and the Matador was so mad he cried because he couldn’t show off with his cape and sword.  So they had to take Ferdinand home.  And for all I know he is sitting there still, under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers just quietly.  He is very happy.

Excerpt from The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf

The Story of Ferdinand was my favorite book when I was a little girl.  I cherished the story of the bull who loved flowers and refused to fight.  This is a powerful story because it reminds us that there is as an enchantment that comes from staying opening to our natural awe, which gives us life and often protects us in dangerous situations.

Many of us have heard that if we want to be happy, it’s good to spend some time every day being grateful. An associated practice that increases the happiness and enchantment level of our lives is opening up to this natural power for awe.

The gift of experiencing some kind of difficulty in life is that sometimes the loss or removal of something that we once took for granted or the challenge of dealing with the world as it is brings us the opportunity to re-discover our power for awe in new ways.

Right now, my children and I are in awe of the medicine that has removed most of the tremors from our little dog.  She can now crawl across the floor after lying almost lifeless for several days fills us with awe.  She is not necessarily cured of her illness, but even moments of the freedom to enjoy her little life are precious to us.

Little children often are wiser with this aspect of enchantment.

Lilium bulbiferum in habitat, Tyrol, Austria
Lilium bulbiferum in habitat, Tyrol, Austria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we grow older we forget what it was like to be a small child and filled with awe at the glories of the world around us.We forget that it is an entirely appropriate response to giggle and become amazed over the simplest things like the ability to blow a bubble or snap our fingers or smell the scent of a beautiful blooming flower.

Jesus seemed to be referring to this innocent sense of awe and trust in life when he said to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must be like little children.

If you’re going through a tough time in your life or even if everything is better than you could have ever hoped, see if you can discover that part of you that holds your natural awe of the magic of life.

A daily dose of opening up to awe is another way to discover enchantment in whatever season of life you may now be passing through.

As you go through your day, find one or many things that bring you a sense of delight and awe.  Then for at least five minutes allow yourself to be completely immersed in your own innate sense of wonder and magic.  Awe is always there waiting for you to open your eyes and breathe in the beauty of your life.

What fills you with awe today?

Creating a Spirit Box

I had meant to write about this topic yesterday, but with my dog Ginger’s illness, other issues were more important.  Thank you for all of you who have offered your kind thoughts.

Because of the big storm’s last night, it seems the blood tests that were being done for my dog Ginger are delayed.  We still don’t know what is wrong with her, and am not sure when we’ll get the results.  My vet has been wonderful and gave me his home phone number to call him if anything gets worse.  Right now, our little dog is holding steady.

In some ways, these troubles and concerns are perfect in connection with the topic of today’s blog – Creating a Spirit box.

Now, if you don’t believe in Spirit or God or a higher power, this idea might not be as helpful for you. When the idea of creating a God box was presented twice from two different sources in the last week, it  seemed like a good one to add to my life.  I prefer to call it a Spirit box myself, but you can call it whatever you like.  I imagine you could also call this a Zen box, and approach worries in a Taoist way too.

The idea is simple and probably not a new one.   It seems like I’ve heard of variations of this theme for a long time.  Essentially, you use a box to store all those problems in your life, which are beyond your control to change in some way or another.  A sick dog.  Shaky finances.  Love.  Health.  Employment.  You name it. Whatever issue in your life is worrying you.  And you create this ritual to give over those problems to something higher than yourself.

The directions are simple:

  1. Get or find some type of container or box with a lid.  You can decorate it, like I have if you wish.
  2. Write on a sheet of paper any worry or concern you have.
  3. Put the paper(s) in the God box and trust that your worry will be handled by something bigger than yourself.
  4. Come back to the box as often as you need.  Even if you need to remember that you already put a certain worry in there, and it’s being handled in its own time.

In my case, I decided to re-purpose a box that I had created several years ago as a dream box.  It feels better suited for this purpose now.

I placed it to a bookshelf, which is also a mini altar in my house, and wrote this blessing for every time I need to use it:

Dear Great Spirit of the universe,

Help me to align with my best self, that inner transformer, who helps me to take the actions I need to take every day.

For all else, I put my worries in this box knowing they are in your hands now.

I rely on your power to redeem, forgive, and uplift everything I don’t control.

With all my worries gone, I can relax and focus on what I was put here to do today.

Any day, a new worry can occur.  All we can do is our best to deal with what presents itself, and leave the rest to something greater than ourselves to sort out.

Do you have any special ways you deal with your worries both big and small?  I’d love to hear how you face new and old challenges in life.

Related articles

Rumi’s Thoughts on Blooming

Mawlānā's tomb. "Konya",Turkey
Mawlānā’s tomb. “Konya”,Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cease looking for flowers!

There blooms a garden in your own

home.

While you look for

trinkets

The treasure house awaits in your

own being.

Rumi

I came across this beautiful quote last night and thought it was a great follow-up contemplation after yesterday’s post.

Earlier this week, I suggested going for a swing.

It’s also a good season to go for a whirl as well.  You don’t have to be a dervish.

Remember when you were a kid, and allowed yourself to twirl around to your heart’s content.   Twirling and whirling also happens to be a decent way to keep your spine supple.

Today take some time to discover your greatest treasure — you!

Related articles

Weekly Video Blog: Are You Repelling or Attracting Your Destiny?


A rather trippy and deep post flowed out of me today.  Before I started writing, I had a strong intuition to find a particular book for this post, and when I found it, randomly opened the book to exactly the idea that was seeking to be expressed through me.

For your own heart’s sake, I hope you will take a moment this weekend to contemplate the words in this post, because they could open your mind to some new yet old ideas that just might awaken a spark of remembrance in your soul as they did for me.

Do you believe that you have a destiny that can be repelled by the way in which you live?  Do you believe like many that there is a law of attraction that you can use to create whatever type of life you would want to live? Or must you submit to forces outside of yourself to be on your best path in life?

These are questions that have been on the minds of men and women since the dawn of human history.  For the next few days I’d like to share some different perspectives about how we repel and attract our “destiny” from great souls who have come before us.

Today, let’s begin an exploration with some radical ideas from a German Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart (1260-1328).  When I first read Meister Eckhart in the early 1990’s,  I was blown away that a medieval Christian priest would have ideas that were so profound and in some ways seemingly Eastern in their philosophy and scope.

In the passage that follows, Eckhart does not use the word destiny once, but talks about one of the common themes in many religions that the animal or creature part of us keeps us from fully living as God would desire, which is through us.  Many of the most holy people who I’ve met in my life talk about this same idea of getting out of the way of God, so that which is individual in them disappears to let God shine through.  There are problems with this approach, which we’ll discuss at another time.  For today, let’s look at the strengths of this idea.

I love this particular passage from one of Meister Eckhart’s sermons and hope it will cause you to think about your own ideas of destiny, free will, and the possibility that the divine spark of God within you actually needs you to allow it to live through you:

For if Life were questioned a thousand years and asked: “Why live?” and if there were an answer, it could be no more than this: “I live only to live!”  And that is because Life is its own reason for being, springs from its own Source, and goes on and on, without ever asking why — just because it is life.  Thus, if you ask a genuine person, that is, one who acts from his heart:  “Why are you doing that?”  — he will reply in the only possible way: “I do it because I do it!”

Where the creature ends, there God begins to be.  God only asks that you get out of his way, in so far as you are creature, and let him be God in you.  The least creaturely idea that ever entered your mind is as big as God.  Why?  Because it will keep God out of you entirely.  The moment you get one of your own ideas, God fades out and the Godhead too.  It is when the idea is gone that God gets in. 

God desires that you, the creature, get out of his way — as if his own blessedness depended on it.  Ah, beloved people, why don’t you let God be God in you?  What are you afraid of? You get completely out of his way and he will get out of yours  — you give up to him and he will give up to you.  When both have forsaken self, what remains is an indivisible union. It is in this unity that the Father begets his Son in the secret spring of your nature.  Then the Holy Spirit blooms and out of God there comes a will which belongs to the soul. As long as this will remains uncorrupted by creatures, it is free.  Christ says, No man riseth to heaven but he that came from heaven.”  All things were created out of nothingness and thus their true nature is the “Not”.  That is why the aristocratic will, to the extent that it condescends to created things, lapses at last with them to their nothingness.

It is sometimes asked whether this noble will may lapse so completely that it cannot recover.  The authorities usually teach that, if it has lapsed for some time, there is no recovery.  But I say, if will is directed back again, to its secret source, it will once again be as it was, formally free and really free, and at once all the time that was lost will be made up.

People often say to me: “Pray for me!”  At that I have to wonder: Why did you ever leave him?  And why not be your true self and reach into your own treasure? For the whole truth is just as much in you as in me!

That we all may similarly remain close to this treasure, that we may all may know the truth blessedly, without anything separating us from it, or standing in between, may God help! Amen.

Is this the type of sermon you would expect to read from a medieval Christian priest, talking about everything coming out of nothingness? If we circle back to some of my earlier blogs this year about the Zen concept of everything coming out of nothingness, and compare those ideas to those of Meister Eckhart’s, it is quite reassuring to see how mystics across the planet have been discovering the same truths from the context of different spiritual traditions.

So, with Eckhart’s wisdom as a tool for growth, we might say that part of attracting or repelling our destiny depends on how much we allow our own connection to divinity to live through us.  That’s what the energetic elixirs that I spoke of us earlier this week allow us to do — clear the space for more of our true self/heart to be expressed through us in our everyday life, so that we can say with all confidence and authenticity:

“I do it because I do it!”

When we reach that point of living from our heart, any concerns of repelling or attracting our destiny disappear because we are on the path towards living the most holy destiny or life that is ours to live.

More about this tomorrow . . .

Can you feel the truth and the freedom in Meister Eckhart’s understanding of Life?