I am fascinated by the starting points that begin a creative journey. Today I read some material that my spiritual director had sent me on Julian of Norwich. The starting point for one of her most famous spiritual insights was a hazelnut.
“And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, ‘What may this be?’ And it was answered generally thus, ‘It is all that is made.’ I marvelled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God.
In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it. The second that God loves it. And the third, that God keeps it.”
This bring us great confidence and comfort. God made us, God loves us and God keeps us! Indeed He enfolds the whole of creation in these truths. With confidence we should be able to take time to rest in His presence and re-story our lives entering our next chapters full of hope. At a time when imagining the future is so vital we need to search for a new confidence to enter new territory. In this regard we can look to artists who face a blank canvas and have to make their mark.
I have found it helpful listening to an interview with George Condo. In this video, recorded in his New York-studio, the iconic artist shares his life-long love of drawing and thoughts on his artistic expression, which he describes as “artificial realism.”
Condo describes the drawing process as walking through a forest. He suggests you do not know where you are going but you “just start from some point and travel through the paper until you get to a place where you finally reach your destination”. Later he describes how you just expand your drawing from the starting point.
I love this sense of the creative Spirit leading. I firmly believe that is is God’s creative Spirit that leads us. We just have to place pencil to paper or take one step forward and expand, travelling onward towards our destination. The unfolding form of our lives is a beautiful thing.
Take some time to watch the first few minutes of the interview above. Why not take a big blank piece of paper and a pen/pencil. As you pray make your mark, choose a starting point. This is the place you are right now. God is with you in this place. Begin your journey with your pencil/pen and sense what God might be speaking to you about the journey ahead. Don’t worry about the final form just pray through your feelings as you make your marks. Take your feelings before God.