In the exercises for week 4 of the Artist’s Way (by Julia Cameron) one of the tasks is to write your own Artist’s Prayer.
AN ARTIST’S PRAYER
O Great Creator, We are gathered together in your name That we may be of greater service to you And to our fellows. We offer ourselves to you as instruments. We open ourselves to your creativity in our lives. We surrender to you our old ideas. We welcome your new and more expansive ideas. We trust that you will lead us. We trust that it is safe to follow you. We know you created us and that creativity Is your nature and our own. We ask you to unfold our lives According to your plan, not our low self-worth. Help us to believe that it is not too late And that we are not too small or too flawed To be healed— By you and through each other—and made whole. Help us to love one another, To nurture each other’s unfolding, To encourage each other’s growth, And understand each other’s fears. Help us to know that we are not alone, That we are loved and lovable. Help us to create as an act of worship to you.
Of course, we’re now in Week 8, and I haven’t done it yet.
So, perhaps it’s time to really look at how I wish to co-create with the Creator.
Great Creator and Spirit within, I rest easy knowing that my purpose is to share my learnings and that when I lean into you, I know enough. I acknowledge and accept that all my creative urges and yearnings are Divine, So today, I offer myself into the flow of your creative energy. I open myself to co-create with Divine Love, welcoming new ideas and new ways of connecting and working with old ideas. I am willing to let go of the need to know it all now before I get started. I trust that it is safe to explore my creative yearnings, trying new methods and ways. I dare to ask that you supply all my needs: emotional, mental, creative, health, and even financial. I am learning to trust and surrender. I am perfectly made and created; I am healthy and whole. Allow me to be a vessel for your Divine and Creative love to flow to others, accepting Divine Love to fill me and overflow. Let my creativity be my act of worship. And so it is.
I took a moment today to reread one of my posts from ten years ago: The Lord is my shepherd. It was a collection of thoughts about Psalm 23 and what it means to feel safe in the presence of God.
For these last ten years, I’ve come to understand that our English Bible translation uses “the Lord” as the standard translation wherever the original used YHWH. I’ve distanced myself from the idea of God being a man sitting Santa-like on his sky-throne.
Somehow distant and looking down on us all – rather than Spirit and in each and every one of us. Over these past 22 months, I realise that what has kept me going strong is the Divine presence of inner peace, abundance, and compassion, despite living in a time of turmoil.
So, today I want to share my thoughts on what it means to allow the Infinite to flow through us as Divine Wisdom, peace and love, taking thoughts and ideas from Psalm 23.
Divine Wisdom shepherds me
One of the things about sheep and shepherds is that the sheep get used to the shepherd because the shepherd lives with them twenty-four hours a day. They recognise the shepherd by the sound of their voice and the scent.
And so, as I learn to live in the presence of the Divine, I learn to listen to that still, small voice of Divine Wisdom. It’s often hushed, although occasionally, I get a brutal shake or prod!
Shepherding is about being led, surrendering to the path of Divine Will, rather than what my ego would have me do. And when I listen and surrender, I recognise that I have everything I need.
Everything I need: all the time I could possibly need to get things done, all the love and affection that my heart desires, and all the resources that I need at this moment.
In fact, when I sit with my God Box, which I made at the beginning of this year, I am in awe! All the worries and concerns that I put in my God Box were taken care of. All of them. Not a single one of those worries came to pass this year! I took all those things that were beyond my control and simply said, “you handle this for now, and when I’m ready, gently place it on my plate to take care of”.
Resting in the presence of the Divine
Most of us remember that the shepherd makes us lie down in green pastures; there’s a lushness to this imagery. In addition to having our fill – an all you can eat banquet – do you experience the softness and gentleness of lying down and resting?
How have you rested in 2021?
Are you resting gently and deeply, or do you stay up at night with worries?
To quote my previous post on Psalm 23:
“We have found both provender and peace, rest and refreshment, serenity and satisfaction.”
In addition to surrendering to rest and relaxation, we are offered our fill of living water – to be cleansed, refreshed and revitalised.
Can you allow the Infinite to flow through you?
My soul is restored and renewed
I wear myself out trying to do it all from my own strength and under my own steam. I forget – regularly – to allow Divine Presence to flow through me and empower me. But, as I let it, my soul and spirit are restored and renewed.
All I have to do is step away from staying business – holding and grasping desperately to doing it all myself.
When I’m doing it all alone, it’s empty and incomplete. My ego’s happy – for a while until it falls and fails. Then it throws a tantrum when I realise that I am not perfect and complete unless I am open to the presence of the Divine.
I am complete when I am One with Spirit. But when I allow myself to be guided by Divine Wisdom, I find myself facing anything and everything. The path takes me back to wholeness.
But it is a soft allowing and opening up. It is surrender and trusting, which I still find challenging.
How are you allowing the Divine Creator to complete you?
A time of turmoil in the world
Walking through the valley of the shadow of death
These two years have felt like a walk through the valley of the shadow of death. The foreboding of “it’s out there” could be terrifying, and yet I have discovered this fantastic, deep well within me of inner peace. One that genuinely has surpassed all my understanding.
I know, without a doubt, that we are walking through this valley. That means that there is a light at the end: there will be a moment when we are no longer under the shadow of death.
But I feel an intense peace and calm within me. I haven’t feared for myself or those I love in these two years of uncertainty. I have felt deeply protected and shielded despite all the turmoil.
Some of the changes have been harrowing – as an introvert with a slightly extroverted child, I cannot begin to explain the challenges of two years of home-schooling while working from home. And yet, this too shall pass.
And every time she says that these have been the best two years of her life, I am blown away. In my mind, I have focused on my shortcomings rather than how resilient we have both been!
We have been abundantly protected and shielded. We’ve grown and changed with the changing times.
And in so many ways, I have been miraculously comforted and found safety.
Making time for self-care
Despite the challenges of these times – the enemies that surround us – Divine Wisdom reminds me to take time out. To sit quietly and eat calmly. To enjoy the food before me.
These past two years have been about re-encountering a relationship with gratitude and pausing, especially around food. I’ve made more time cooking and sitting down to eat, with grace before meals, rather than eating on the run.
And what I’ve realised is that this has a very practical application in our digestive system: as we switch over from “fight & flight mode” to “rest and digest”. It’s a crucial physiological distinction. Divine Wisdom reminds me regularly: stop what you’re doing and just eat. It’s okay to take time for nourishing your body without multi-tasking.
I am also reminded that I have a purpose and calling – and that does not require multi-tasking either! It’s becoming more single-minded about “the one thing” and focusing my energy and attention on what I am called to be and do.
The more I follow this, I count my many blessings! My cup indeed does run over!
Guided by Divine Wisdom, with goodness & mercy watching my back
Who has your back?
We’re promised that both goodness and mercy will follow us wherever we go. Mercy sweeps along behind me, forgiving my mistakes and weaknesses, allowing me to forgive myself.
Can I let go of the guilt and shame that I’ve carried and allow it to be swept away by goodness and mercy?
The final part of Psalm 23 reminds us that we dwell forever with Divine Presence, finally reaching that place of complete Oneness with Spirit.
I belong. I am loved and cherished, with an everlasting love.
This is what it means for Divine Wisdom to be omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.
Will you allow the Infinite to flow through you until you are One with Spirit?
Wisdom comes when we apply creative compassion to creative action. In fact:
Generative wisdom is far more than just having wise insights from your life experiences.
Soosalu & Oka, “mBraining”
It is not an end state of being wise, but rather an ongoing process, one that continually transforms who you are.
I cannot stress this enough: wisdom must be embodied in pragmatic action. The same way that we show our faith by our works and deeds, we embody our wisdom in action and the decisions that we make each and every day.
Most of us that were brought up in churches can easily recite that to love God is to love our neighbour and to love our brother, no matter who they might be. We are likewise challenged to bless those who curse us.
It’s easy to be at peace and in harmony with God and others when you are sitting quietly, meditating and in prayer. But true wisdom is being able to hold that same inner peace in the midst of the unrest of every day triggers and people who would typically anger us or make us feel fearful.
I’ll show you my faith by my works is not simply about doing good deeds: but rather it is living that life of faith and Divine Wisdom in all moments of challenge.
The process of acquiring true wisdom is not one of studying and memorisation (although that is no doubt where it begins): it is in changing our responses and choosing a new way of acting and reacting in the world.
The beginning of wisdom
This journey for me, into transformation and change, began with the search to understand “the fear of the Lord”. As a child, I had it hammered into me that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Unfortunately, my understanding of “fear of the Lord” was heavily tainted by my understanding of the word “fear”. And my understanding of “the Lord” was much influenced by the descriptions of a terrible God sitting on a throne “in heaven” surrounded by “a host of angels” that were ready to send anyone and everyone to hell.
It was much more of a Machiavellian description of “tis better to be feared than loved”, than an understanding of awe, presence and communion. I certainly viewed God as being dangerous and painful. While I was perfectly capable of saying “God loves you”, it had quite the “domestic violence kind of love” written all over it. Unfortunately, I experienced a traumatic view of authority, which clouded and overwrote my views on God.
It has been hard for me to change and learn a new definition of Divine Love. One of the many reasons that you will find me referring more to “Divine” and “Source” rather than “God” and “the Lord” in this blog is that I am aware that I am not the only one that still has wounds to heal. I am perfectly clear in my mind that these are man-made wounds, by men (and women) who purported to be godly and “loving”. And horridly, wretchedly human.
It is so much easier to say “God did this” than to take the time to separate the humanity of (mostly) well-intentioned, badly misguided men and women, and simply turn your back on the Divine.
Finding my way back to accepting Divine Love and living in that Presence has been a challenge: one in which I have had to be open and vulnerable to healing and change over these past ten years.
Forgiveness and learning to love and accept myself have been difficult lessons to live by.
A peace that passes understanding
And yet, in 2020, I had a year in which to come to grips with “how far I’ve come”. You might notice that there has been a hiatus in posting (for months on end).
Part of this was overwhelm with all that was happening in the world. Another part was being drawn into the shadows of “This is where you need to shine more light in your life and allow healing to take place. This is what you are holding onto and it’s time to let go of.”
The beauty of 2020, for me, was that I discovered that somehow, over the last decade, I had discovered “a peace that passes all understanding”. Accidentally tripped over it in the midst of chaos.
While I contemplated questions like:
What is truly important?
How does the way I am living my life reflect my values?
What do I trust in and where is my faith place?
I discovered that I had come to a deeper understanding of the simplicity of Source versus channel.
The Source of abundance, health and well-being is the Divine. The channels through which I may receive abundance can be a job, independent contracting or even gifts.
When I found my channels placed in jeopardy by the chaos of 2020, I suddenly discovered the my faith and trust had moved. I was no longer trusting in myself and my ability to create income: I had an inner peace I had never experienced before of “my Source” will provide a new channel.
Likewise, I’ve had to face thoughts and challenges regarding my attitudes towards health and wellness. I live from a place of responsibility: I am 100% responsible for my health and wellness and taking care of myself.
Nonetheless, the question arose: but where am I putting my faith?
Is my faith limited to what I can control and what I am able to do for myself? Or is it in something bigger than me? Can I trust in my Creator that I am wonderfully made and that all my cells and organs respond and vibrate to a Divine vibration of health and wellness?
Letting go: moving with inspiration
For most of us, 2020 gave us the challenge and opportunity to let go of life as we knew it (and planned it), and to turn our trust into Divine purpose and process.
Most of can quote many a verse that reminds us that everything that is happening is for us. But what does wisdom really look and feel like in the face of uncertainty?
In part, we have to be willing to let go of what was in order to step into what could be. This requires changes at so many levels:
from the heart: starting with love and compassion for ourselves and for others around us;
in our heads: minding our thoughts, especially the doubts, awfulisations and catastrofising that we do;
and in our guts: being willing to gently release the tight grip we have on our identity “this is who I am” and grow into a new creation.
On a spiritual level, it requires that we be reminded that we are souls having a human experience. Our spirits are searching for Oneness with the Divine – living constantly in that Divine Presence, rather than separated from. And yet the human experience teaches us that we are individual and separate from each other and from God. We are constantly trying to get back to God.
Divine Love, especially in moments like these, invites us to get in touch with God’s plan and purpose in our lives. Each one of us has been given unique talents and gifts that are not shared by others.
Likewise, most of us have passed through levels of preparation. What life lessons have you learned that have moulded you into the person you are today?
Creative compassion invites us to have a look at everything we have to offer, as well as our heart’s desires, and ask:
This might include questions or thoughts of the following nature:
What might it be like to live in alignment with Divine Will?
How can I use all the gifts, talents and experiences I have been given to serve others?
Who am I drawn to serving?
Many of us, don’t have immediate clarity. Some, of course, get called similar to what we’ve read in the Bible:
Jonah – told exactly who to go to and what to say to them;
Jeremiah – given visions and messages
Peter – called by Jesus to leave his nets
Some of us might end up with an experience like Esther, put in a position where we only discover it’s purpose when there is a crisis “I was put here for such a time as this”. Others might experience hardship like Joseph, only to be called “when it’s time”.
Most of us, on the other hand, have nothing quite so concise. Life is much more mundane and subtle.
Are we listening for those callings?
Perhaps, like the Good Samaritan, we are simply called to go about our business and just help others anonymously when they are put in our path.
The only questions we have to ask ourselves is: am I living this life from a place of compassion for myself & others? Do I allow Divine Love to flow through me as a conduit and channel for others?
Sometimes the calling is simply to follow a new line of study or preparation, without knowing the end purpose. Can you trust the Divine to take that step without being able to see the full path ahead?
It takes courage to act when called:
As James said, it is not simply about hearing “the Word” or memorising it. It’s no good to spout it out to others or recite it.
The true change happens when we allow it to change our heart: to give up our heart of stone and allow it to be replace with a heart of flesh. A hear that is vulnerable, open, soft and gentle.
When this happens, we learn to think in new ways. And as we begin to think in new ways, we learn to talk differently. We see through new eyes, with compassion and empathy.
It takes courage to allow Divine Love to change and transform our lives. In many cases, this means letting go of any hatred or fear that we have been harbouring. To start to let go of fear, we have to acknowledge and accept that we are afraid.
When I’m honest with myself: fear is usually about situations beyond my control. Like most of the things that happened in 2020. Letting go of that fear requires that I learn “fear of the Lord” in a new way: trust in the invisible.
And only now am I discovering that level of courage to have faith. I haven’t figured out my “calling”, but for now, I’m willing just to take the one next step that is clear on the path ahead and trust that the rest will be revealed when I’m ready.
The fear of I AM THAT I AM is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Divine One is understanding. For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life.
Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.
5 Trust in I AM THAT I AM with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Proverbs 3: 5-6
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
So get rid of your feelings of hatred. Don’t just pretend to be good! Be done with dishonesty and jealousy and talking about others behind their backs.
We all experience periods where we feel separated from the loving ebb and flow of the universe. These times of feeling disconnected from the source may occur for many reasons, but self-sabotage is the most common cause for us choosing to cut ourselves off from the flow of the universe. We purposefully, though often unconsciously, cut ourselves off from this flow and from the embrace of humanity so we can avoid dealing with painful issues, shun the necessary steps for growth, or prevent the success that we are afraid of achieving from ever happening.
When you choose to disconnect from the source, you block the flow of the universe’s energy from passing through you. You become like a sleepwalker who is not fully awake to life, and your hopes, plans, and dreams begin to appear as distant blurs on a faraway horizon.
Universal support has never left you, but if you can remember that you became disconnected from source by choice, you can choose to reconnect.
And I couldn’t agree more – how often do we distance ourselves from God & our Source?