Imagination in Check

I am reading a book published by Spiritual Directors International© on using the arts in spiritual direction. I believe using art in spiritual direction is a very positive tool that benefits both the director and directee. I am enjoying the book very much. However, I do have some concerns. I cannot justify using misleading (bad) theology in artistic expression unless there is a very compelling reason. The following is taken directly from the book I am reading.

“And God stepped out on space,” The dancer enters with long slow steps, her form, voice, and breath becoming an image of God at the foundation of the universe. Now stretching her arms into the emptiness of infinity she pronounces: “And [God] looked around and said, ‘I’m lonely—I’ll make me a world.’”[1]

Imagination, especially spiritually directed imagination, must always, always be based on sound, orthodox theology. For me that would include the Apostle’s creed and the theology I have gained from studying the Anglican approach to faithfulness (discipleship) in Christ. The Triune God I know, love, and worship is never lonely.

The God I love had a desire to create. The word desire is not adequate. What God wanted and did is that well beyond our comprehension this side of heaven. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in perfect unity, perfect love, never lonely and created us for a purpose much to wonderful for us to yet comprehend. And, if we accept what Augustine said for himself, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” This is what we seek as well.

If there is one thing I have found in current practice of spiritual direction is that there is a limited emphasis on doctrinal correctness. I am not talking about being a fundamentalist. I am talking about the place of the Triune God in our spiritual direction practice and purpose.

Obviously, I am not a universalist. I do believe there is a path to God and there are false paths that can deceive (I have found plenty of those). I am seeking to build my faith through experiential trust, past education, and active prayer to be on the right path. I can only judge what I believe is the right path. I cannot judge the path of another.

When I am “holding space” for another, I do so as a guide who is willing to listen intensely and compassionately to what another is saying and to share the routes, rituals, and readings in the journey I have found useful. I seek to ask questions of those I direct which may stimulate their spirit or invoke the Holy as we both seek discernment from the actions and acts of our lives. The language of art can be very helpful in seeking discernment and in expressing personal emotion. I am thankful for the boundaries that I submit to in faith so that truth and trust are primary values.

[1] Beckman, Betsey. Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction (Spiritual Directors International Books) (p. 11). Church Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.