At Christmas time this year, I had the good fortune to be able to catch up with family on boxing day. As part of this I went with My Uncle Geoff, Geoff Plant which some of you mooters know, to see his art studio and some of recent paintings.
Whilst we were there, my Uncle expressed his frustration with some of his art. He knew he could draw people, but wanted to get beyond the construction and technical bits of art, to be able to express the essence by getting beyond his own limitations. It struck me that this is the same process as meditation and prayer, about getting beyond the self by using some form of method of prayer and meditation, to be able to reach beyond yourself to be able to encounter the essence which is God.
When I did my MA, one of the courses I completed was on art, literature and a theology of the imagination. This basically traced the theme of creativity and imagination as the sphere for encountering the Holy Spirit, as the medium when the human and the divine encounter in the I-Thou relationship – whether this was intentional or not. I have always seen prayer and meditation as an expression of this, as it requires you to get beyond your thinking and your feeling to be able to see beyond the self. I have never thought that art and the process of making art, as a similar process.
Although we came from completely different places, this desire to express the essence was an important shared moment. I was able to say that for this reaching beyond and expression of essence was a a form of prayer, an essence outside of our self-preoccupation and self-deceptions. For me prayer is hard work, just as art is hard work, but both are an essential expression of the spiritual path of seeking to reach out to the essence beyond, seeking the divine.