"Do Something You Love to Do"
By Pastor Alex
In seminary, Master of Divinity students were required to take a class on spirituality. Though I might appreciate the class more today, I grumbled at a class that focused on spiritual disciplines such as prayer or silence. Amid the seminary workload, sitting in silence seemed like a waste of time; especially when there were hundreds of pages to be read and multiple papers that needed to be written each week. Throughout the semester we did the expected topics such as prayer and silent meditation, but it was something we focused on toward the end of the class that has stayed with me.
For the final couple weeks of the semester, we were supposed to “use a physical or art form” to guide our spiritual practice. This included activities such as creative writing, painting, woodworking, pottery, cooking, music, walking and more. The idea was simply to engage more than your head and mind, to incorporate your body and hands. As the semester ended, we were instructed to report on 2 or 3 of these different practices that we had tried. Some students brought in art pieces they had created, and others brought in photographs of things that caught their eye or simply inspired them. Personally, I spent my time woodworking, cooking, and playing music. I’m much better at some of these than others, but that’s not really the point.
During the past few weeks at home, I’ve been doing a lot more of these things, and I’m remembering the joy they bring. Maybe you are having a similar experience. With more time at home, have you brushed the dust off a hobby or art form that you’d forgotten about? Perhaps you enjoy scrapbooking, baking, gardening, reading, drawing, knitting, watching movies, cycling, or another activity. I would encourage you to go for it, and spend time doing what uplifts your soul.
I know some of these things may not sound inherently spiritual. But the fields of art and music are full of individuals who were motivated or inspired by their faith and their works are nothing less than spiritual expressions. I believe that spending time on art or hobbies may offer us the opportunity to experience one of those Divine Moments that this study is designed around. Whatever our hobbies or art forms may be, they can provide us a new way to wrestle with the deep feelings and spiritual churnings that so many of us are experiencing right now. As Madeleine L’Engle simply states, “Art is Communication.” Our hobbies or art can be a language that allows us to express the grief, loss, and disappointment that is present in our current days. Further, they can bring healing or help us make peace with the difficulties of life.
Creating is also theological. Whether you are cooking, painting, writing, or quilting, you are creating something that didn’t exist before. Going back to the story in Genesis, humanity was left to continue the creating work that God first begun. As beings created in the image of God, we too are creators. For me, this is what God intended in Genesis 1:26-28. To have dominion over creation does not mean we should oppress nature or exploit it for our own desires. The charge to have dominion means we should continue upon the work that God began – creating life and harmony. This means that when we plant a garden, we are working with creation to bring about fruit and food that feeds human beings and the critters that munch on the produce at night. In this way we are co-creating with God. Though we till the ground, plant the seeds and pull the weeds, God sends the rain and the sun. God causes the seeds to sprout and the plants to bear fruit. In this way, we are co-creating with God.
So, think of this as permission. Permission to do some of your favorite things. Create beauty by painting or landscaping; express some of your soul’s deepest groanings through music or poetry; or encounter the worldview of another by reading a book or watching a film. There’s no wrong way. Let your hobbies or art become a pathway to experiencing a divine moment with God.
P.S. - Below is a wide variety of links. Some are for taking your interests further, and others are simply some of my own hobbies or interests that I've been practicing. Finally, some links are simply inspiring.
Prayer: Holy God, open our hearts to the silent presence of the Spirit of your Son. Lead us into that mysterious silence, where your love is revealed to all who call, ‘Come, Lord Jesus.’
This Week’s Challenge
- Do something that you love to do. Create something or spend time on a hobby you love.
- Meditate on 1 John 3:18 - “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”
- Be open and attentive to what is going on in your own soul. Are you peaceful, fearful, content? Then, listen to how God is responding.
Also, Check Out:
- In addition to refinishing a bench, I'm working on a bird feeder to attract birds to our garden. Check it out here.
- Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front, by Wendell Berry
- Since we didn't see any family for Easter, I made a different meal. Check out our Easter meal - Shrimp and Cheddar Grits
It's not polished enough to post a video, but here's a piece by David Lanz that I have been practicing.