“From May 2021 until July 2022, the Society of Jesus celebrates an Ignatian Year.  What is an Ignatian Year? May 20, 2021 marks the 500th anniversary of St. Ignatius’ conversion — that fateful day when Ignatius the soldier, struck by a cannonball, began his transformation into Ignatius the pilgrim. How might we grow in our relationship with God and our love for one another by meditating on this important moment in Ignatius’ life?

God continues to invite each of us into a deepening relationship, to ongoing conversion. We believe that by embracing this invitation, we embrace our God who calls us to act in new, bold ways that reconcile our world, bringing about justice, peace and compassion. For this Ignatian Year, we ask for the grace to see all things new in Christ.” (Jesuits.org)

When we allow ourselves to see God in all things and “all things new in Christ”, we open our awareness to creativity. Vinita Hampton Wright says in her writing about “Creativity and the Ignatian Spirit” how she “discovered that creativity is in fact a spiritual function.” Vinita Hampton Wright shares five areas of creativity in the spirit of Ignatius and a guide to exploring and expanding our spiritual life.

“Creativity is woven into all creation.  …creativity fits easily into the First Principle and Foundation of Ignatian Spirituality; it is a gift of this life that God intends for the good of my soul and of others’ souls.  We are presented with the option of finding God in all things while noticing the sacred when we are being creative. There is always an open invitation from God to notice the creativity that is woven into all of what God has created as well as what we create, whether it is music, art, other human beings, joy and laughter with our children, families and friends, stopping to notice the ants and even the weeds in the garden, flower petals that have fallen from the stem, even the heat and humidity.  All of these are created by God and available to each of us, to reflect on, to appreciate, to manage or to enjoy in the moment. Who are the other souls you are aware of in your life experience?  What is the gift of your life that God intends for the good of your soul and of other’s souls?

“Creativity encourages me to reflect on everything.  Creativity is in harmony with the Ignatian principle of reflecting on our experiences”.  How often do we or have we acknowledged how busy our life is, how little time we have to do what we would like to do or that moment on a vacation we are caught up in taking photos and the vacation is seen through the lens of the camera instead of the panoramic full view vision experience of intentionally stopping and noticing everything that is in front and around us. Taking the time to reflect on what is seen and the gift of creation is creativity encouraging you to reflect on everything.  How do we make meaning of that intentional noticing of all God has created?  Maybe there is an encounter or conversation you have been part of and it can be the catalyst to allow questions to rise up and then simply sit with the questions and reflect on what you are meant to understand and what truth is really being revealed to you. What is the truth in your spiritual journey and how does it inform all the aspects of your life? 

“Creativity is a process much bigger than I.  Creativity is a superb example of a person joining with Jesus to do great work in this world.”  What is that great work we are being called and invited to do? What can we learn from any one of these invitations?  Vinita Hampton Wright says she imagines “what she has not yet done”.  What do you imagine you have not yet done in your life as it relates to your spiritual growth, family, work, social justice, art, writing, or in the garden? Imagine where can you join Jesus to contribute to great work in this world?  William A Barry, SJ says on his book, Finding God in all Things, that God is always creating a universe in which God draws all persons into the community of the Trinity.  The “drawing” is God’s dream….” What is God’s dream for you?

“Creativity teaches me detachment.   To do well in creative work, I must be spiritually free to allow the work to develop as God has designed it to develop”.  Many people have the perception that to be creative one must be in control of the process. Ignatius teaches that the grace of detachment or indifference (which might sound cold) is that place in our life where we surrender to God (surrender meaning to give into) our dreams, hopes, fears, uncertainty with the trust that the grace from God is enough. Setting aside all that gets in our way or distracts us from noticing and embracing how God is leading us is the grace in detachment. This is when our creativity becomes our teacher.

After spending time with this perspective, it reminded me of the creative opportunities that were available to me when we started our family, making homemade play dough, creating a garden to feed our children fresh vegetables, the sense of deep gratitude for the fresh air that dried sheets and diapers, music and the coolness of the water in the little pool in our backyard on hot summer days. I recall the strong nudges when our daughter died, to look more deeply for how her death would provide a deeper and creative heart connection through love.  Creative writing, through journaling, and developing a bereavement ministry program, as well as a change in career, were all moments of noticing the creativity within my own spiritual journey.  Prayer time is a creative experience; moments of conversation, of listening, of asking and of gratitude.  Noticing is prayer time, wondering and questioning is creatively experiencing God in our life.

As in previous blog posts, I creatively find a way to connect through offering an invitation for the hoped-for transformation within each of us.  It is consistent with the understanding that when what is internal is in balance we are able to notice God in all things.  What a grace to be reflected upon and cherished. What an invitation to creatively encounter and notice God in all things.  St Ignatius, thank you for your creative path to an ever-deepening spiritual life.