I celebrate that following an artistic path makes me grow and feel and question. So often along the way, I’m tasked to learn enough to absorb something new and then write, photograph or speak about it—and that process of discovery is the time I’m really open.
Thus I celebrate being asked by a local spiritual center to speak about the connection for me between art and the growth of my soul. That’s a path that I’ve implicitly pursued for decades—yet I laughed to realize that I’ve never actually thought about it in those terms. What is that connection I so deeply and passionately feel?
The path of connection inevitably runs through nature. Nature is an art form itself—the ultimate one, really. It’s the place I find my wisdom and my best questions, and even an answer or two. When I look deeply into nature, I find both my art and my spirituality within that endless natural sanctuary.
The resulting creative expression does at least three things for me that help me grow.
One, artistry can help me see and remember the existing beauty of the world, and my precious few moments within it. Through words, photographs, music and connections with others on their own creative paths, I can better experience the depth of the moment. I can form my experience through art and keep it, in a way that inner memory doesn’t allow. I can choose to focus on inspiration, and have a tangible reminder of those inspired moments.
Two, artistic expression helps me add to that beauty in some small way. Adding to beauty seems like a primary purpose—to make this world a slightly better place than when I arrived. Art helps me to do more good, to balance out the accidental damage I inevitably do.
Third, creating art helps me to understand and transform challenge, when the world and my own soul do not feel beautiful at all. When I don’t yet know the depths of my emotions, or am in dark moods because of some situation around me, I can lean into creativity to transform challenge, and thus my spirit. If there’s nothing but an oil slick on cracked pavement in front of me, I can use art to find the beauty in it. And every time I do find unexpected beauty, my soul does grow.
A dedicated artistic path is also a path of fierce persistence. It’s nonlinear, often with little or no financial reward or recognition. It requires faith in the simple rewards of expression itself, of exploration, of discovering private wonders in the minute details of this beautiful, troubled earth. That is art, yes, and that is also the same faith as I need to have in the deeper spirit birthing life. I could not imagine life without creativity, and I celebrate not only what it brings to my life, but the way its brings others’ own artistic expressions to me.
We all grow together through each other’s creativity. Community is a creative art form too, and I celebrate that we are here together pursuing it, in this very moment.
Eric Alan will speak at Unity of the Valley in Eugene, Oregon on Sunday, April 9th during the 9:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. services. More information at www.unityofvalley.org.