April 7, 202
100 consecutive days of creativity can bless our souls
The last few years, I have taken part in a creative project called The 100 Day Project. The project, started several years ago on Instagram, involves making a commitment to create something daily for 100 days, then posting it on social media with a hashtag that identifies the particular project. It can be a way to jumpstart one’s creativity, experiment with new materials or methods, connect with other creatives who are participating in the project, any and all of those things.
In 2020, the project began in early April. We had already spent a few weeks in lockdown at home, and it was becoming clear the pandemic wasn’t going to end as quickly as first imagined. It seemed an ideal opportunity to focus on the word that had chosen me earlier as “my word” for the year; Serenity. The stated definition of the word is “a state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.” My intent was to allow this creative project to help direct my listening throughout each day when I wasn’t feeling particularly serene about many things.
I set out on my fourth year of the project, hoping the practice would help me stay grounded in listening for God’s presence. Conversations, e-mails, podcasts, dreams, scripture verses, poems, quiet times of contemplation and prayer, time in nature, all became sources of insight that shimmered in ways that pointed toward a word that communicated something about serenity. Each day I created a 3” x 3’ tile on watercolor paper with markers. The time spent creating each little art piece and writing an accompanying reflection ranged from a few minutes to a few hours each day for 100 consecutive days.
Through social media, I connected with other creatives doing similar projects, and with friends, family and acquaintances who shared their own wonderings and feelings about what was happening. In a time when we weren’t gathering together in usual ways, it became a positive way to connect and share. This daily creating time became a gift for me; a way to keep my eyes, ears, and heart attuned to those signs and messages the Holy Spirit was offering to comfort, challenge, instruct, and inspire me.
Slowing down to create can connect us more deeply to God
Through this daily creating practice, I was drawn to remember God’s presence in the midst of so much noise that was more about anxiety, division, fear, and mistruth. I have learned that one way I can listen for and experience God is through a creative practice. It only makes sense. We are created in love by the one who has dreamed up all that exists; from the tiniest microorganism to the unfathomable expanse of the cosmos. As ones created in the image of the great Creator, we, too, are creators. And each one of us has a unique gift to share with the world that only we can give. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Which allows us to be more Present to God, others, and all creation.
On Day 24, the word given to me was Presence as a quote from poet John Philip Newell arrived in my email inbox.
Do we know that within each one of us is the unspeakably beautiful beat of the Sacred? Do we know that we can honor that Sacredness in one another and in everything that has being? And do we know that this combination – growing in awareness that we are bearers of Presence, along with a faithful commitment to honor that Presence in one another and in the earth – holds the key to transformation in our world? 1
Newell reminded me that when we are free to know, and be, who we truly are, we can become able to be present to ourselves and others with acceptance and love. Pandemic time has been an invitation to slow down and remember this. In the last year, we may have spent more time with those with whom we live as we have been doing work, school, and almost everything at home.
It has been a lesson in being present to one another. It may have led us to get to know each other again in new ways. Perhaps it has tested our patience, or made us examine more closely our own ways of being present to others. Perhaps it has caused us to take less for granted, and to truly appreciate the truth of the Sacredness in those closest to us.
Let your creative juices draw you closer to God
I have learned that spending time creating is a way I am drawn into God’s presence. It feels as if it opens my heart and soul to the deepest part of who I am. Experiencing that has also led me to appreciate the potential of creativity to bring joy and inspire awareness of one’s own sacred presence in the world.
How do you like to create? Maybe you enjoy needlework, quilting, baking, coloring, painting, photography, card-making, scrapbooking, cooking, gardening. These, and many other ways of making something that didn’t exist before, can be ways to enter into the Presence of the Creator. In sharing those gifts, we can truly be bearers of Presence, honoring the holiness inherent in each and every beloved child of God.
It’s not too small a thing to imagine that this beautiful gift of creativity really can transform the world.
Diane Harpster, Certified Spiritual Director
Editor’s Note: As a Certified Zentangle® Teacher, Diane can lead Zentangle® retreats–and is extremely gifted at it! She led a retreat for our congregation and now we have several people praying with Zentangle®. Contact her here to discuss possibilities.
1Newell, The Rebirthing of God, 2014 (Skylight: New York) xvii.