Creative expression opens us up to the Journey

Building a Nest in Spiritual Accompaniment Mixed media on paper by Julie Elliot

Building a Nest in Spiritual Accompaniment
Mixed media on paper
by Julie Elliot

My strongest attraction to the Pacific Jubilee Program was its openness to creative expression. At the first residency we received a handout about responsive projects (the at-home component of the SoulGuiding Program ~ a two year practical learning program in spiritual growth, soul development and the art of Spiritual Direction.) I was excited to read, “Creative response can come through a variety of media such as poetry, drama, dance, dialogue, weaving, painting, power point, music, sculpting, video etc. Creative expression opens us up to the journey and provides a path for wrestling with and delighting in conceptual ideas, the movement of Spirit and our own life history.” As a painter and printmaker for the last 25 years, I knew my learning would be enhanced by explorations with paint and ink as I grappled with new material and experiences as a spiritual director in training.

An example of how art and learning came together is this image created for my project on Ethics – please click on the image to enlarge. Here’s what I wrote at the beginning of the paper:

A letter to a new Directee,
Here is an image for us to consider as we begin together this sacred commitment. In spiritual accompaniment, we will be building a nest that will hold and support your life in God. We can trust that everything we need is already present. The golden egg will be many different things over our time in spiritual direction. It will be whatever, for you, feels holy and right. It may be wisdom revealed. It may be new awareness or a question. It may be healing. It may be hope, love, encouragement. It may be loss fully known. The golden egg will be what you know it to be and I will be there as a guide to support you in that knowing.

What will make this nest of spiritual accompaniment safe, secure and strong? There are ethical guidelines that I will observe. Ethics can be defined as “standards of conduct and practice that help keep us on the path of right (whole and healthy) living.” Woven through these ethical guidelines there is love and respect as the strongest threads that will be woven into the nest. Jesus’ greatest commandment was to love ourselves, love each other and love God. One cannot be separated from the other; they are all woven together. This kind of love is what ethics are about in spiritual direction.

The rest of the paper goes into the specifics of ethics in the framework of Jesus’ commandment as:
Loving Myself (is loving others and God)
Loving Others (is loving myself and God)
Loving God (is loving others and myself)

The paper ends with these words, “Finally, I will practise humility and acknowledge that these ethical guidelines are what I aspire to and I know I will fall short of their ideals. It will be important to remember the Latin phrase that is widely used in the helping professions: primum non nocere ~ Above all do no harm. As we go forward in this sacred commitment, my hope and prayer is that we will build a nest that is safe, loving and supportive of you in your union with God.

Was creative expression part of your responsive projects? We’d love to hear about how it enhanced your learning and experience of your Jubilee program. Please be in touch with Julie at Pacific Jubilee, Tracy at Prairie Jubilee or Peggy at Ontario Jubilee – we’re listening!