Updated: Aug 21, 2019
Our lives are stories that can be told in million ways. At the beginning of a spiritual direction relationship we always take time to tell and listen to the stories God has been writing in and through us. If all of us are storytellers, then it only makes sense that we need listeners, an audience to tell our stories to. I love how a writer Christina Baldwin describes these people as"Storycathers",
"Storycathers are people who value story and who find ways in the midst of their everyday lives to honor this activity. Perhaps we're at a party and someone starts to speak about what at first seems an ordinary anecdote but soon grows into something more important. A Storychatcher notices and says, "Come, let's sit down on the sofa. I want to really hear you." The Storycathcer's job is to help us shift into narrative: to make people conscious of the story just beneath the surface of our talk and invite us to speak it."
Spiritual conversations invite us from merely being storytellers to also become Storycatchers.
Here is a creative practice that helps us to prayerfully consider our formative journey and catch deep insights and glimpses of the movement of God in it. It is a lovely practice for a group or for individual reflection.
(Although there is no requirement for you to prepare for a spiritual direction session, it can be a valuable practice to use this prayer guide before hand and bring it to the session.)
Time: 30-45 mins
Paper, paints, markers, watercolors, crayons, pastils, acrylics, pencils, brushes, plant dyes, leaves, yarn, glue, magazines, scissors, etc. art supplies that you want to use to make visual presentation of your life with God.
Read slowly, pausing in between line breaks Psalm 139:13-16 (The Message)
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.
Reflective Creative Prayer
Prayerfully reflect on your own spiritual formative journey and create a personal visual representation of your life with God. As you do so be curious and stay open.
What emotions do you notice surfacing?
What mediums, tools, shapes, textures, colors, and sequences do you feel drawn to?
Is your journey a linear line, a curly path or a circular mandala?
Are there patterns, spaces, various shades and tones of the same color or lines that express certain movements?
Do not analyze or try to explain, simply follow the movements of your body and allow your hands to express your inner truths. The prayer is divided into three movements: early formation, the journey and present life.
1. Early Formation
Think about the very beginning of your formation when you were in the womb. Imagine God carefully crafting all the parts of you into being. Who were you when you first emerged from the womb?
Recall your early childhood and the first things you loved and learned, who you were with, what you liked and were afraid of.
Think about moments when you first remember knowing that God was with you. What was that like?
Start giving your memories colors, shapes and textures.
2. The Journey
Ask God to help you to remember things that continued to shape you through your youth and early adulthood until today into the person who you are now. Note practices, relationships, painful events, information, books, places, big transitions, trips etc. that have had a significant impact on your formation.
Work these memories, experiences, senses and feelings into your visual storyboard in whatever way they show up to you at this moment.
3. Present Life
How does life feel like to you right now? What is your life with God currently like?
Express your present reality on your paper as you experience it now. Incorporate this as part of the visual story you have been building up, even if it may not make artistically sense to you or even be visually pleasing to you. Resist the urge to critique, edit or judge.
Post Reflection and Group Discussion
When finished, take note of your awareness of God in each season.
What do you notice? What experiences have had the most transformative impact?
Where do you find yourself right now on the journey? Where is God?
What else do you notice? Does anything surprise you?
Are You Looking for More Creativity in Your Spiritual Practices?
We practiced this prayer at our first Soul Care Saturday, and were so enriched by the way how prayerfully engaging in art making helped us to connect with ourselves and God. If you would like to find a place and community that helps you to incorporate creative practices in your spiritual life, join us for the upcoming Soul Care Saturday on August 31st. All the information and registration link can be found here.
Resources: Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction by Christine Valters Paintner, Betsey Beckman
Storycatcher: Making Sense of Our Lives Through the Power and Practice of Story
by Christina Baldwin