Art & Spiritual Companionship - "Leading Us Below the Surface"
Editior's note: Art and spiritual companionship go together. Many of you know about an ancient contemplative practice caled visio divina. And SDI is about to launch a webinar series called "Contemplative Photography & Spiritual Companionship."
The piece of art above is an example of how useful a single artistic image can be. (It was made by our Creative Director Matt Whitney, who is also leading the contemplative photography webinar.)
The illustration was created for the January 2019 edition of Listen (see below) and the response to it was rapid and significant. People wanted to know where they could get a copy of it to hang in the space where they did spiritual direction / companionship. So, we decided to sell quality reproductions at the 2019 conference in Bellevue - and we continue to sell them on line.
We do get some money through the sale of the reproductions - which is lovely because it helps us pay the bills here. But the real reason we offer this illustration in our shop gets to the core of our purpose as an educational nonprofit - "to support spiritual companionship around the world."
To be succinct, we think Matt's art can benefit spiritual companions in their work.
How often do you see an image that captures one of the key roles of a spiritual companion? An image that shows how spiritual companionship actually works? An image that can spark a deeper dialogue?
This is art that's far more than something nice to look at. This is art that offers a practical and contemplative resource to all our deep listening community.
We think Matt's illustration provides an invitation for any seeker. As our executive director, Rev. Seifu Anil Singh-Molares wrote in his Listen essay, "Longing, fractures, and healing characterize our spiritual evolutions. And they resolve into maturity."
Which is another word for integration or wholeness.
When one of our members, Spiritual Director Sharon Seyfarth Garner wrote to Matt with the touching thank you note below, we decided to share it with everyone in the hopes that it might inspire more use of art in spiritual direction.
Thank you, Sharon, for your support. And thanks to every spiritual companion on the planet. You are doing important work. And we honor you.
~ Steven Crandell, Director of Content
From Sharon Seyfarth Garner:
"I wanted to jot you a quick note to let you know how meaningful I have found your “Broken Mirror” illustration. I recently purchased two copies. One copy I have hanging in my spiritual direction office and it has been the source of many meaningful conversations with directees. That is the profound beauty of art, isn’t it? It leads us below the surface and invites conversations that we often lack words to convey without a catalyst. Your art has been a tremendous catalyst for me personally and in my practice, and I am so very grateful. The second copy of your print became a gift to our East Ohio Conference Pastoral Care director upon his retirement. It was given to him by the spiritual directors in our conference in gratitude for all he had done to support the awareness of spiritual direction in our area. When he received it, he was moved to tears.
I wanted to share these two stories with you so that you know what a profound ripple effect your arts ministry is having. Sometimes it is hard to know whether what we are doing has any impact at all. I just felt it was important to let you know that you are having a profound impact far beyond what you may ever know. Keep on doing what you do!
Blessings to you in your ministry and artistic collaboration with the Spirit."
Rev. Sharon Seyfarth Garner, Director & Founder of Belly of the Whale Spiritual Direction & Retreat Ministries, is a United Methodist pastor (ordained in 1997), certified spiritual director (Ignatian Spirituality Institute), retreat leader and author. Her books Praying with Mandalas: A Colorful, Contemplative Practice and Mandalas, Candles and Prayer: A Simply Centered Advent have introduced thousands to the spiritual practice of contemplative coloring. Sharon shares her passion for prayerful coloring through her spiritual direction practice, a six-session eCourse (Upper Room Books), as guest contributor to the My Quiet Spaces website, in women’s prison ministry, at retreats/workshops worldwide and as a workshop presenter at Seeking Connection 2019, the SDI Conference in Bellevue, Washington.